Treat your teachers well inside and outside school: Treat all the teachers as individual human beings. As leaders, we first need to ensure that teachers are catered for in terms of their lives, inside and outside school. Are the teachers happy in their dwellings? Do they, for example, have Internet access? It’s the little things that make all the difference.
Ensure that all school systems are clear and understandable: Make sure that there is a proper induction programme at the beginning of the year, so that the teachers feel secure in the school systems. Not everyone will agree with these procedures and processes. It is better to give security and clarity, which will not please all, than to offer confusion and chaos, which will please no one.
Adopt a school philosophy that is based on the doctrine of positive psychology, so that everyone strives for excellence: We must first be happy, before we achieve, rather than the other way round. The pursuit of happiness is not the same as the pursuit of pleasure. By encouraging your teachers to strive for the best they can achieve, as a leader, you will create a win-win situation in which the teachers will gain job satisfaction and the school will achieve higher standards.
Protect your team from external negative pressures: Leaders should protect their teachers from external pressures that they do not need to feel in order to carry out their jobs. Poor leaders pass unnecessary, negative stress and unproductive pressure on their employees; good leaders work to create an atmosphere of challenge, positive stress and high expectations. The most important people in our school system are the children and their parents. We will not serve them properly, until we start taking care of our teachers.
Actively encourage teachers to be a part of the creation processes in the school: It is essential that teachers are given opportunities to be part of the creation of the systems, processes and ethos that the school has, rather than mere recipients of a ‘higher wisdom.’ By taking ownership, the teachers will feel much more a part of the school family.
Treat your teachers as individuals: We are all individuals with our own idiosyncrasies, interests, personal history and professional strengths. As leaders, we must recognise this in dealing with our teams. How do we approach particular members of staff? For example, do we seek to speak face-to-face on important issues, or do we rely too heavily on email?
Create career opportunities within your school: Give your teachers a sense of purpose and a career path. The fewer opportunities that teachers perceive are available in your organisation, the more likely they are to look elsewhere.
Create bonds of trust within the school organisation: Trust between the leadership of the school and the teaching team is essential. As a leader, be honest, consistent, and approachable. Communication is a key issue in any organisation. It is very important that teachers feel that they are listened to and that they have avenues of communication that they can follow. As a leader, make your teachers feel that they can speak with you. If someone is contemplating leaving the school, then he/she will speak with you first. It may be that, by having these conversations, those teachers will not be part of the tide of teachers leaving; instead they may become part of the dam that stems that tide.
By Christopher McDermott