By Derrick Meador
The relationship between a teacher and principal can be polarizing at times. A principal by nature has to be different things at different times for different situations. They can be supportive, demanding, encouraging, reprimanding, elusive, omnipresent, and a wide array of other things dependent on what a teacher needs to maximize their potential. Teachers must understand that the principal will fill whatever role they need to help a teacher grow and improve.
A teacher must also recognize the value in building a trusting relationship with their principal. Trust is a two-way street that is earned over time through merit and based on actions. Teachers must make a concerted effort to earn their principal’s trust. After all, there is only one of them, but a building full of teachers vying for the same. There is not a singular action that will lead to developing a trusting relationship, but rather multiple actions over an extended period to earn that trust.
The following are suggestions that teachers can utilize to build a trusting relationship with their principal.
1. Assume a Leadership Role
Principals trust teachers who are leaders instead of followers. Leadership can mean taking the initiative to fill an area of need. It can mean serving as a mentor for a teacher who has a weakness in an area that is your strength. It could mean writing and overseeing grants for school improvement.
2. Be Dependable
Principals trust teachers who are highly dependable. They expect their teachers to follow all reporting and departure procedures. When they are going to be gone, it is important to give notification as early as possible. Teachers who arrive early, stay late, and rarely miss are very valuable.
3. Be Organized
Principals trust teachers to be organized. A lack of organization leads to chaos. A teacher’s room should be clutter free with good spacing. Organization allows a teacher to accomplish more on a day to day basis and minimize disruptions in the classroom.
4. Be Prepared Every Single Day
Principals trust teachers who are highly prepared. They want teachers who work hard, have their materials ready before the start of each class and have gone over the lesson themselves before class starts. A lack of preparation will diminish the overall quality of the lesson and will hinder student learning.
5. Be Professional
Principals trust teachers who exhibit characteristics of professionalism at all times. Professionalism includes appropriate dress, how they carry themselves inside and outside the classroom, the way that they address students, teachers, and parents, etc. Professionalism is having the ability to handle yourself in a manner that reflects positively on the school you represent.
6. Demonstrate a Desire to Improve
Principals trust teachers who are never stale. They want teachers who seek out professional development opportunities to better themselves. They want teachers that are constantly looking for ways to do things better. A good teacher is continuously evaluating, tweaking, and changing what they are doing in their classroom.
7. Demonstrate a Mastery of Content
Principals trust teachers who understand every nuance of the content, grade level, and curricula that they teach. Teachers should be experts on the standards related to what they teach. They should understand the latest research on instructional strategies and best practices and should utilize them to their classroom.
8. Demonstrate a Propensity to Handle Adversity
Principals trust teachers who are flexible and able to deal effectively with unique situations that present themselves. Teachers cannot be rigid in their approach. They must adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of their students. They must be adept problem solvers who can remain calm making the best of strenuous situations.
9. Demonstrate Consistent Student Growth
Principals trust teachers whose students consistently show growth on assessments. Teachers must be able to move students from one academic level to another. In most cases, a student should not advance a grade level without demonstrating considerable growth and improvement from which they began the year.
10. Don’t Be Demanding
Principals trust teachers who understand that their time is valuable. Teachers must realize that the principal is responsible for every teacher and student in the building. A good principal will not ignore a request for help and will get to it in time. Teachers must be patient and understanding with their principals.
11. Go Above and Beyond
Principals trust teachers who make themselves available to help out in any area of need. Many teachers volunteer their own time to tutor struggling students. They volunteer to help other teachers with projects. They help in the concession stand at athletic events. Every school has multiple areas of need in which teachers are needed to help out.
12. Have a Positive Attitude
Principals trust teachers who love their job and are excited about coming to work each day. Teachers must maintain a positive attitude. There are definite rough days and sometimes it is difficult to keep a positive approach. Continuous negativity will impact the job that you are doing which ultimately has a negative impact on the students you teach.
13. Minimize the Number of Students Sent to the Office
Principals trust teachers who can handle classroom management. The principal should be utilized as a last resort for minor classroom issues. Continuously sending students to the office for minor issues undermines a teacher’s authority by telling students that you are incapable of handling your class.
14. Open Up Your Classroom
Principals trust teachers who do not mind when they visit the classroom. Teachers should invite principals, parents, and any other stakeholder to visit their classrooms at any time. A teacher who is unwilling to open their classroom seems like they are hiding something that can lead to distrust.
15. Own Up to Mistakes
Principals trust teachers who proactively report a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes including teachers. It looks much better when you own up to the mistake instead of waiting to be caught or reported. For example, if you accidentally let a curse word slip in class, let your principal know immediately.
16. Put Your Students First
Principals trust teachers who put their students first. This should be a given, but there are a few teachers who forget why they chose to be a teacher as their career progresses. Students should always be a teacher’s first priority. Every classroom decision should be made by asking what the best option for the students is.
17. Seek Out Advice
Principals trust teachers who ask questions and solicit advice from their principal, as well as other teachers. No teacher should attempt to tackle a problem alone. Educators should be encouraged to learn from each other. Experience is the greatest teacher, but soliciting simple advice can go a long ways in dealing with a difficult issue.
18. Spend Extra Time Working in Your Classroom
Principals trust teachers who demonstrate a willingness to spend extra time working in their classroom. Contrary to popular belief teaching is not an 8-3 job. Effective teachers arrive early and stay late several days a week. They also spend time throughout the summer preparing for the upcoming year.
19. Take Suggestions and Apply Them to Your Classroom
Principals trust teachers who listen to advice and suggestions and then make changes accordingly. Teachers must accept suggestions from their principal and not let it fall on deaf ears. Refusing to take suggestions from your principal can quickly lead to finding a new job.
20. Utilize District Technology and Resources
Principals trust teachers who use the technology and resources that district has spent money to purchase. When teachers to not utilize these resources, it becomes a waste of money. Purchasing decisions are not taken lightly and are made to enhance the classroom. Teachers must figure out a way to implement resources that are made available to them.
21. Value Your Principal’s Time
Principals trust teachers who value their time and understand the enormity of the job. When a teacher complains about everything or is extremely needy, it becomes a problem. Principals want teachers to be independent decision makers capable of dealing with minor issues on their own.
22. Principals trust teachers who complete projects or tasks quickly and efficiently.
Occasionally, a principal will ask a teacher for help on a project. Principals rely on those that they trust to help them get certain things done.
23. Work Well With Other Teachers
Principals trust teachers who collaborate effectively with other teachers. Nothing disrupts a school faster than a split amongst the faculty. Collaboration is a weapon for teacher improvement. Teachers must embrace this to improve and help others improve for the benefit of every student in the school.
24. Work Well With Parents
Principals trust teachers who work well with parents. All teachers must be able to communicate effectively with the parents of their students. Teachers must build relationships with parents so that when an issue arises, the parents will support the teacher in correcting the problem.