Monthly Archives: January 2016

Teachers’ Currency

teach forthemoneyTeachers are leaders in their classes, but they are still impacted by their school leadership. Principals’ impact on teachers and their delivery and as a result students’ outcome and academic performance may be positive or negative.

How can principals keep their influence positive and their teachers committed and engaged?

This is not an easy challenge for principals, but it is essential and can be achieved.

Here are a few elements that school leaders need to know and deliver. These elements come to be known as ‘currency’ because they function as an incentive and as a reward. This currency doesn’t have to be monetary or material.

 To get the most out of their teachers, principals should keep in mind their teachers’ human and individual needs.

1.      Sense of security

Create a safe and secure environment for trying new strategies and for asking questions.

As the leader you don’t have to have all the answers, in fact, expecting your teachers to be able to solve problems boosts their motivation.

  1. Trust

Show your staff that you trust and value their professional opinions by including them in decision making and implementation plans. Teachers buy in when they have been part of the planning.

  1. Inspiration

Teachers want good leadership that inspires, is decisive and knows when to include others in their decision making. Keep calm and inspire confidence and professionalism. The tone of voice the leader uses can transmit so many innovative thoughts and ideas.

  1. Recognition and Praise

Everyone responds to feeling valued and appreciated, but praise has to be genuine and sincere.

Acts of recognition are simple and are always motivational. Make it spontaneous and unpredictable so that teachers don’t become desensitized to it. At staff meetings, take a moment to recognize a teacher for something great he or she said or did in a classroom, hall, meeting, etc. Relate that action to one of the core values and to the mission of the school.

  1. Listening, paying attention and caring

Listen to teachers’ concerns. Provide them with solutions and allow them opportunities to take ownership of their role. Learn how to listen to your teachers by reading their emotions and acknowledging what they do well.

  1. Instructional Support

Support the teacher’s instructional effort, initiatives and student-centered strategies.  Support is manifested through showing attention, being around, sharing the excitement and providing resources and a climate of collegiality. The more support you are to your teachers, the less work you have to do as a school leader because you build a community who works for your school and its mission.

  1. Teachers’ wellbeing

If a teacher comes to you with distress, drop everything and listen. Don’t judge. Express empathy and confidence, and ask how you can help. Be honest and warm.

  1. Feedback

If a teacher makes a mistake, address the way, method or action, not the person.

Teachers need clear and honest feedback on their teaching. They also need a subjective and positive constructive feedback. They want to hear it in a professional way from the leadership of the school and from their peers. Feedback motivates and inspires. Effective feedback is characterized by being an appropriate amount, given in a positive and constructive way, specific enough to provide a plan of action for the teacher to follow, and frequent. Timing of the feedback is also crucial to have maximum impact.

  1. Resources as rewards

Being the first to get a new technology for the classroom, being selected to attend a conference, being given time to plan, etc. is highly appreciated among teachers.

  1. Leading by example

When tasks are due, stay alongside your teachers and help! When the leader is in the room to help, lead, and facilitate, it becomes a true team effort. Lead by example, communicate, adopt a variety of leadership styles and don’t hesitate to take hard decisions and work on the basis of shared understandings and vision.





Self-reflection for Teachers


Self-reflection is a process through which a person examines self and all its constituencies: interests, abilities and skills, values, beliefs, learning style, and mistakes, etc. It leads to better understanding of the self and the impact of one’s emotions and thoughts on actions, failure and success, and thus to more personal and professional development and growth. It also leads to more satisfaction and happiness.

As teachers, asking one’s self the right questions refines thinking, ideas, and practices. In a professional learning community (PLC) thoughts may develop through sharing and discussions. The outcome of this process is to set new goals, develop new perspectives, and feel comfortable to implement new teaching methodologies.

Following are some good questions for teachers to ask themselves. Teachers may write down their thoughts, keep it personal or publish them or share them with colleagues.

  1.  What am I trying to accomplish with my students?

What are the long-term goals?

What are the short-term goals?

Do these goals relate to real life situations?

Are these goals meaningful to the learners?

How do these goals align with the school’s mission?

Are these goals SMART? (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely)

What do I learn/how do I benefit from achieving these goals?

  1. What do I support how students learn?

Do I truly understand the different ways students learn?

Do I deliver my content in ways that attracts and motivates all types of learners?

Do I diversity entry point for activities?

Do I allow choices of varied activities?

  1. How do I create a positive climate for learning?

Do I create a safe environment for mistakes as learning experiences?

How do I build strong, positive relationships with my students?

How do I engage and motivate all my students to learn?

How do I Inspire my students to learn and to continue their learning after they leave school?

  1. How do I nurture creativity and curiousity among students?

Do I tell my students what to think, or do I listen to their questions?

Do I give them answers to their questions or do I direct them to where they can find an answer?

Do I teach them critical thinking with no bias?

  1. What are the best teaching strategies that I use?

Are my teaching strategies the same all the time?

Are my strategies effective?

Are they engaging? Which method works best?

How do I assess my teaching?

  1.     How do I know when my students have accomplished goals?

Have students reached their goals? My goals? The school’s goals?

What do we mean by success?

How do I measure success? Performance? Behavior? Outcome? Progress? Effort?

Do I measure knowledge? Intelligence, or skills?

  1. Feedback works both ways. How do I use feedback to improve student learning? How do I use feedback to improve my teaching?

What are the bases for feedback?

Is there a trusting relationship for giving feedback?

Is there a clear communication system to give feedback that includes respect and proper use of words?

How do I keep feedback constructive and positive?

  1. Am I competent to manage the classroom?

Do I understand individual differences?

Do I understand students coming from multicultural settings?

Can I manage conflict/bullying in the classroom?

  1. What’s special and unique about my teaching?

What makes me a special teacher?

How do I impact my students and how will they remember me?

  1. How will I improve my teaching?

What opportunities are there for PD?

Who will help me to improve?

What resources do I have?

How do I collaborate with other teachers?