Supporting Teacher Prioritization, Part 3

Aug 8, 2013

Supporting Teacher Prioritization, Part 3

blogOkay, school leaders and school supporters. Let’s say you have become Total Together Ninjas. Or you’re working hard at it.

But you also have a full school of folks who are working on their own Togetherness—and their job is harder than yours because teachers have so much less choice about their time (right, teachers?!). Dealing with a fixed schedule and so much to do at the same time is a TOUGH thing. It’s not that your teachers are no good at Togetherness—there is just so much coming at them so much of the time. It’s hard!

Let’s say you have a staff conversation about priorities, like Paul did. That will help SOME of your people. But some may need even more individualized support around efficiency, prioritization, or follow-through.

We recently talked to Steph B., a principal in Brooklyn, about how she coaches teachers on Togetherness and why she makes such a thoughtful investment in her staff. Ever modest, Steph was sure to say that what she does currently works for technical fixes, but she doesn’t feel like she’s cracked the nut on the more emotional challenges of teaching.

Nonetheless, here were our takeaways from her best practices:

  • Explicitly name the number of hours you think your new / new to your school / returning teachers will likely work in a week. And then be clear about the weeks when it will be heavier, like Back-to-School-Night or testing weeks. Let people know what to expect.
  • Work with your leadership team to pinpoint teachers that need your assistance. They usually split into two camps: 1) the over-achievers and 2) the I-want-to-teach-forevers-but-I-need-to-make-this-sustainable. Figure out who is drowning in to-do’s and then support, support, support.
  •  Set clear goals. Steph reviews some teachers’ Weekly Worksheets or digital calendars for the week, and works with them to set goals around what time to leave the building, how to ensure follow-through on personal or social plans, and getting enough hours of sleep. Yes, hours of sleep. It may sound crazy, but I have a lot of evidence on what happens (none of it good!) when teachers lack sleep.
  • Offer direct time-saving tips. Steph helped her teachers identify ways to efficiently use their long train rides and prep periods.  Even if she was in their classrooms to give instructional feedback, she always dropped an efficiency or planning tip, like, “Use Robocall for family appreciation week.”
  • Monitor, monitor, monitor. Steph asked for direct feedback from her entire teaching staff via her weekly newsletter on their challenges with time management. Then, she addressed the whole group to share tips and tricks needed by all.

Wow, Steph, we love that you have taken on teacher effectiveness AND sustainability in one swoop! Not only do you say it is important, you state goals, coach others, and follow-up. Being Together Teachers is really tough, and you have created a supremely supportive environment!

Discussion question: How have you coached others around Togetherness?