Building a Learning Culture for Teachers part 2 of 5

The Principal must be the “Lead Learning” in his or her school. We must walk the walk and talk the talk. We must keep the main thing the main thing. We know that the more the teacher learns and practices with guidance and coaching, the better they will be able to help his or teachers help their students to learn and achieve success.

Here are five factors I believe helped build a learning culture at my school:

  1. Provide feedback to teachers and communicate continuously that I value the teaching profession and them as individuals.
  2. Share with teachers my personal growth journey
  3. Provide actionable formative feedback using non-bias and factual statements that highlight strengths and something to think about
  4. Provide resources for teachers to access professional development and collaboration time.
  5. Hire teachers who demonstrate that they are continuous learners.

In this post I will focus on the second factor.  Click the link to read part 1 of 5

Factor 2: Share with teachers my personal growth journey. It is important to share my learning goals and my plan to achieve those goals. I must model the culture I want for my school. Teacher need to see and hear what I am learning, how I go about learning it, and what impact my learning has to improve my ability to serve and support teachers, students, and parents. Teachers need to know that I am continuously learning new things, working to refine existing skills, and that I am on the life-long learning journey along with them.

I need to share how I learn from my mistakes and how I am a better administrator because of the experiences and collaboration I have had with teachers. Teachers need to know that they have a positive impact on my learning. I spend time thanking specific teachers for their specific contribution. One teacher might have shared an article that really helped me think about a situation a new way, or I might watch a teacher teach a lesson and demonstrate a different approach to helping children improve their mastery of an academic standard. Taking time to thank teachers helps communicate I value their work and contribution to our profession on a global and personal level.

Teachers need to know that I value their time. They need to know that time they spend on professional development is important. Therefore, I attend and participate in 90% of the Professional Development that teachers in my school attend. Sometimes I lead the Professional Development, other times I recruit teachers from our school or outside of our school to lead the learning.

I also share the results of my evaluations and feedback surveys that teachers have had the opportunity to provide about my work as a principal. I believe this transparent step breaks down barriers and shows that I am willing to listen to feedback and show teachers how their feedback compares with other teachers feedback about my service. I share what I plan to do to improve in all aspects of my leadership. I ask teachers to do more than provide feedback as a formative/summative appraisal, I ask them to help me in the action plan to improve.

Ultimately being a transparent servant leader who models and conducts professional dialogue with teachers on a continuous basis is key to building the learning culture for teachers.

What are other ways you have model the importance of professional development?  How have you built a learning culture for teachers at your school or district?

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