Safe Zone for Teachers

By:Jill Manly

 

So, it’s a great day. I just read two articles that are foundationally anchored in the importance of the teacher and their ability and their relatability. I recently spent a lovely Sunday afternoon with my dear friend and 30-year veteran TK and Kinder Teacher at Los Angeles Unified School District. She sat and told me about the most recent testing that she would be administering to her kindergartners in two different languages, and the math assessments she was required to do, and some new test that required her to sit individually with each kindergartener on her own headset. She was feeling the burden of the testing.

She explained to me that the software administrator had all the teachers in and was explaining the process to record the data. A teacher even more senior than my friend raised his hand and said, “I’ve been here a long time, I’m retiring this year, but there used to be value in the collaboration done by the teachers to address the needs of the student.” He said, “I don’t see any collaboration here.” My friend was happy this teacher spoke up. He summed up what she felt has been critically missing at their school.

This article was written by Katrina Schwartz. Why Focusing On Adult Learning Builds A School Culture Where Students Thrive does a fantastic job of explaining what I so dearly believe and hold essential to improving our schools. A culture of collaboration, safety, and value created by a principal, or a superintendent fundamentally improves the culture for the student. If a teacher is sought out by the administrator for their knowledge, everyone wins. This article emphasizes the important feedback loop needed between the administrator and the teacher. It also breaks down what this communication could look like. If we can circle around the children with effective communication, the system which was designed to help children learn will work. We need the teacher and the administrator to be effective communicators.

This article goes on to talk about the social and emotional needs of teachers and their well-being. This article does more than just outline the importance of communication. It uses words like vulnerability and safety. These are big words for teachers today: very, very BIG words. We have not created a culture of safety nor have we encouraged a culture of vulnerability in our society. Right now, it’s school by school where principals do this and they are considered the outliers. But if in these outlier schools, we begin to see happier teachers, higher retention, and greater job satisfaction, shouldn’t we, as a society, look a little more closely at what these principals have created?

I am grateful for this article and for the administrators that really do embrace, protect and appreciate their teachers. They do have to create a safe zone to build communication.

 

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