How My Principal Got Me to Say Yes to Returning Next Year
It's interesting, when I told my principal I wasn't come back next year (2 months ago) he never said anything. Not one word. What did he do?
First he took me to get a cup of coffee, off campus. I felt safe outside of the building. Like I could really say everything that was bothering me (I had a 2-page list). A few weeks after listening and writing down everything I said, he began showing me a different side of himself as a leader, which inevitably gave me a different perspective on being a teacher at my school.
Specific things he did/does:
1. He gave me more leadership roles which allow me to have an impact on the things I want to see changed. Not just random errands but asked me to lead things that I am passionate about.
2. Now, he checks in with me at least twice a week, not just about my work but about how I am feeling about how things are going at the school as a whole.
3. He showed me that he is listening and wants to learn from me, just like I want to learn from this experience.
So, last week, I told him that I will be returning next year because I feel so much more comfortable now, than I did before.
So here's my note to principals on retaining teachers (who actually want to teach):
If you want to keep us, the first step is communicating - all year around. Don't wait until we are about to leave to start figuring out what we are thinking. Forge and nurture relationships with all of your teachers, not just your favorites, and not just the ones that need your help with their management or because of low test scores; look at us as if we all need you - because we all really do need you.
Give us roles. We need to feel like we, too, are needed. That's like totally in our DNA. Why else would we be teachers?! Ha! But seriously, autonomy and leadership go hand in hand. Give us small projects to tackle, don't overload us with your work, but make it just enough so we know we work with you - not for you.
My last suggestion is to just ask us how we are doing, give hugs/high fives/little notes on stickies, and smile more. We are just like the kids. We need love and appreciate positive attention too.
We just want to feel good at work.
We all just want to feel good.