Gavin McCormack, Teacher Trainer, Montessori Principal and Philanthropist, reflects on what school leaders can do to empower their teachers in the classroom.
Why is it Important to Empower Teachers in the Classroom?
Trust in schools is absolutely essential if we want our children to thrive in the classroom. School leaders and principals must first trust their teachers. They must understand that each teacher is different, we are all cut from a different mould and will teach according to our passions, our own experiences and our personality.
Similarly, teachers must trust that their students can handle a pedagogy based around independence, choice and experimentation. Every child learns differently, at their own pace and in a way that meets their needs. When we have trust in our education systems, magic happens. The children are suddenly engaged under the guidance of a teacher who can teach without a critical eye looking over their shoulder.
‘It’s not what children are being taught that causes their eyes to glaze over, it’s how they’re being taught and it’s all about trust.'
Gavin's Top 5 Tips for School Leaders to Empower Teachers in Their Schools:
Ownership of the curriculum - Although the curriculum in many countries is well defined, each teacher is unique and has individual passions. It is crucial that
as leaders we allow our teachers to teach in a way that suits them. It is important that we allow teachers to work within the guidelines of the curriculum whilst still having
the independence to teach in a way that allows their passion to shine.
Freedom to Experiment - The only constant in education is change and if we are not changing then we are failing. By allowing teachers to experiment with the curriculum
promotes a culture of emergence, a culture of diversification and inspiration. There are 1000 ways to teach children the anatomy of a human being, we should let each and every teacher demonstrate that in a way that suits them.
Time - Never underestimate the value of time. Time to plan, time to rest, time to relax and a time to experience. We cannot expect a tired, unprepared and uninspired teacher to do anything more than get through the day.
Flexibility - Every day is different, the news, the culture and the times. It is important that we allow our teachers to move with current affairs. If Mars is aligned with Jupiter this week, then let's talk about that! If there is an earthquake in Nepal this week, then let's discover that. There is nothing better than linking the curriculum to real life and when we allow our teachers the flexibility to move with the times, we allow our children to understand the reality of education.
Active listening - Leaders must take time to listen to their staff. Ask them to be honest and when they talk, listen. Listen with intention, with action and with all 5 senses.
Teachers are the front of house, they are the delivery system in your schools, they are the backbone and when we give them a voice and act upon their words, we truly empower the team to teach from the heart, knowing that the leadership team is right behind them and on their side.
To hear more from Gavin McCormack, visit his blog here.