Distributing leadership to all faculty and staff has the potential to create a stronger school system. The more empowered teachers feel, the more engaging they are with students and other staff members. The more engaging staff members are with each other and their students, the more comfortable the school climate becomes.
What Does Empowerment Look Like?
To start, distributing leadership is one way to empower teachers. However, there’s a major difference between empowerment and delegation. Leaders often confuse distributed leadership as “I empower you to do exactly what I say,” explains Chris Lehmann, principal of Science Leadership Academy.
While it may seem like empowerment, delegating leadership power does not invest in the power nor the ownership of ideas for teachers.
In time, this environment fosters bolder ideas and more invested students and staff.
For instance, the singer, songwriter, and activist, John Legend, asserts that his success is due to his time spent learning from empowered, innovative teachers. It was from these teachers that Legend began to gain confidence in his writing skills. He even attributes their confidence in him as the reason why he eventually graduated second in his class.
Key Factors of Empowering Teachers
Empowered teachers share ﹘ among many other qualities ﹘ greater confidence, innovation, and overall job satisfaction. As a result, school culture is positively impacted.
How can you start empowering teachers at your school? To achieve teacher empowerment, consider the following factors:
- Voice – Make sure each teacher has a voice. Not only should teachers feel confident that they have a say, but they should also have confidence that their voice is heard.
- Development – Although teachers are intricately involved in helping students develop academic abilities, they are often given relatively little say in how this occurs. Be sure to include teacher feedback when making changes to rules, regulations, and curriculum.
- Celebrate – Despite changing many lives, teachers typically don’t receive enough recognition for their work. To empower teachers, be sure to celebrate those who are successful and be candid about what is working and what isn’t.
- Workload – A teacher’s workload can sorely limit their ability to be innovative. Be sure to evaluate your teachers’ workloads on a regular basis and find a way to lessen them as necessary.
- Vulnerability, Risk Taking, and Failure – Lastly, being vulnerable is the key to creating open and honest dialogue, which is imperative for innovation. Take risks and encourage that among your teaching staff, and embrace failure as a part of success rather than the antithesis of innovation.
5 Ways to Empower Teachers
If you are looking for ideas on how to empower your teaching staff, use the following methods:
- Professional Development – Just as no two kids learn alike, the same is true for teachers. Rather than forcing all teachers to attend the same training courses, try switching it up and basing it on their learning style and topics of interest.
- Purchasing Power – On the flip side, it is a well-known fact that many school districts are underfunded, and that many teachers spend their own money to purchase classroom supplies. Including teacher input into the decision-making for new resources and supplies would serve to further empower them overall.
- Sharing is Caring – Allow teachers the chance to share what they are working on with the community. It is a chance to gain both accolades and feedback for moving forward.
- Lighten the Load – As mentioned, too much work is a killer of innovation. Be sure to find ways to lighten the workloads of your teachers as much as possible.
- Culture – Lastly, be sure to create a culture in which collaboration and team-building are central components.
A Final Note for School Administrators
By looking at recent studies, administrators can learn that one of the best ways to improve student success rates is by empowering the teacher. Studies have shown there is a correlation between empowered teachers and student success. Therefore, rather than focusing all energy on the students, administrators need to learn to give their teaching staff a little TLC.
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