Can Administrators Help Ensure Teacher Success?

Andrew C. McMillan
Andrew C. McMillan
High school principal; Ed.D. in Educational Administration

Education as a profession encompasses many groups. Obviously, students are the main focus. Helping young people learn, gain confidence, and be prepared for life after their K-12 schooling is done is the school’s main responsibility. Within the school system, teachers, administrators, support staff, clerical staff, cafeteria staff, custodial staff, and many other certified and non-certified positions make up a school building.

All of these groups systematically must work together to ensure student success. There is no more relationship more important than that between school administrators and teachers. This relationship is absolutely vital to a school’s overall success, teaching for success, and in successful schools, administrators lead the way through a variety of methods. These methods absolutely can help to ensure that teachers are successful, supported, and enjoy their school climate and culture.

Ways Administrators Help Ensure Teacher Success 

If you ask any student today in 2023 to describe a successful school, student answers will vary greatly. Some may focus on the academics, arts, or athletic programs of their school. Some will mention a favorite teacher or a part of the school they enjoy. Regardless of their individual answers, school leaders know that teachers have a statistically significant impact on students, more so than any other factor. In knowing that, the relationship between school administrators and teachers is crucial.

If you ask any teacher today in 2023 the same question, to describe a successful school, teacher responses will vary, but in general, when teachers feel genuinely supported, a positive school culture and high student achievement is a reality. This connection trickles down to the students, in turn leading to students having positive experiences because their teachers are happy about their working environment. In saying that, there are several strategies and initiatives administrators can utilize to promote a positive school environment where teachers are successful.

Promote a Family Atmosphere

Most educators will joke that they have a home family and a “work family.” As educators, we make connections with our colleagues and students that often mimic a family relationship. We celebrate our students’ success and commiserate with them when they face challenges. We do the same with each other as professional educators. As administrators, promoting a family atmosphere is vital to teacher success. As a high school principal, I make it a point to learn all I can about my employees’ families.

I want to know their spouse, their children, and offer opportunities for family engagements, like cookouts, invitations to athletic contests, beginning and end of year socials, and other opportunities for faculty and staff to bring their families. These events further strengthen the bond we have by showing that you genuinely care about teachers as people. When people know you care, they will work ten times harder. Just as we show compassion and empathy to our students, administrators must do the same for teachers when they face adversity or hardships.

Make Intentional Time to Celebrate Your Staff

Administrators lead busy schedules. Many times, administrators are not good managers of their time, often leading in a more task-oriented or managerial style, than a creative, visionary leader. In our school, we spend intentional time celebrating our faculty and staff through a variety of ways. First, every two months or quarterly, our school administration team will provide some type of faculty and staff “pick me up.” This is often a snack cart, boxed lunch, duty-free lunch, breakfast, or other small things that we do to encourage our staff.

One of our alumnae is the office manager for a Spine and Rehabilitation Facility, which comes in and provides free massages to our faculty and staff. This is an event that not only rejuvenates our staff, but also provides valuable community stakeholder connections to our alumni base. These events are always the highlight of our day as administrators!

Additionally, last August, we revived a monthly award called The Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABCD) Award, in which community members and faculty and staff can nominate one of their peers for going above and beyond. This monthly recognition has shed light on great things our teachers are doing daily and connected our community to recognize great teachers. These events only increase our culture, climate, and morale!

Inspect What You Expect

I’ve had the great pleasure to work for and learn from amazing leaders throughout my time as an educator. One mentor of mine always told me to “inspect what I expect,” meaning to go out and observe and provide feedback and follow through with the goals, initiatives, and standards I set forth as principal. Teachers want clear and transparent expectations and firm leadership.

They want to know they are supported when dealing with difficult students and parents. To be successful teacher, they must know, without a shadow of doubt, that they will be supported. Establishing boundaries and providing clarity help set the tone for a school building. In turn, teachers take that and establish the same expectations and policies for their own classrooms. This creates a symbiotic culture and climate where all parties have clear goals, standards, and expectations.

Over the past four years, we have established a one-word goal, where we have chosen one word to guide us. This “one-word” focus has allowed us to narrow down our goals and establish a great guiding focus for us each school year. I challenge other administrators to utilize this strategy, and make it a common language in your school.

The education profession as a whole is at a crossroads. We are facing unprecedented shortages and challenges in retaining surpluses of teachers and staff. Education is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling professions there is. However, it is also one of the most difficult. Administrators play a pivotal role in reversing this trend by establishing positive school cultures and climates that support teachers.

When teachers feel supported and respected, we can see a positive shift in our educational landscape for the best. Our students deserve it!

Educators can have a positive impact well beyond the classroom. Check out our available graduate degrees in administration and leadership to sharpen your skills as a principal, superintendent or other school administrator.

graduate program favicon

Looking for a graduate program?