As schools and school districts become more complex, more demanding, and more emotional due to all of the bureaucracy, politics, responsibilities, and expectations placed on professional educators, they need (now more than ever) to feel valued. The mechanism of this profession is that it is a human profession where assembly lines do not automate student outcomes like welding car parts to the body of a new Chevrolet, all in the same precise manner.
When I say, valued, I don’t mean giving a teacher or principal a candy bar, cookie, or small stipend as a thank you for being great. Educators want more out of their career and workplace. They want to know that their value goes deeper than extrinsic things that they can very well get from a loved one on Valentine’s Day.
Instead, the following 5 concepts of needs are what can help to drive utter appreciation for the profession and the craft of teaching and leading. Here they are in no particular order or ranking:
1. Educators need to be heard, not just listened to.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone else and all you can think of is: “Boy, this is going in (their) one ear and out the other.” Listening is overrated. Being heard is the concept that we should strive to carry out in order for others to be truly appreciated.
2. Educators need to have their good ideas flourish, not end up in the trash bin or delayed for months.
Delay or ignoring good ideas only sends a message that “you are not important.”
3. Educators need to be fed with innovation, knowledge, and excitement in order to professionally grow.
If you don’t water a plant, it will die. Period.
4. Educators need to professionally grow in a group, not a vacuum.
Unfortunately, silos and “cliques” are set up everywhere and they only ostracize group-think potential. We’ve all heard that “two heads are better than one” and sometimes 3, 4, or 5 heads is powerful enough to create study groups, team projects, and team victories.
5. Educators need time to think, reflect, design, and master.
We expect this for our students, so why shouldn’t we be afforded the same courtesy of time to do what we do best so that we can get better in order to make our colleagues better? Shouldn’t we all be a systems-thinking institute?
How can these 5 needs be put into practice right now in your school, district, or organization? Please join the conversation.
Rick Jetter is an Educational Consultant, Director of K-12 Education for the AEP Group, and Co-Founder of the Dunk Tank. For more information about what he does and doesn't do, visit: www.rickjetter.com and www.leadershipdunktank.com