It's that time of year when my thoughts not only start to think about next year, but also reflect on the previous ten months. Because I’m always looking at how to improve my school, how to offer better opportunities for my students, how to implement change, I recently spent some time reflecting on how to best accomplish change and innovation. The answer, I believe, is in recognizing and utilizing our best teachers.
I think that Todd Whitaker does an excellent job of expressing the importance of our “super star” teachers. Too often we neglect them. We worry and wonder what the “nay sayers” may think or express. Todd tells us that this thinking is wrong and I have to agree with him. He has lots of good advice in his book What Great Principals Do Differently, but the three things that are currently resonating in my head are:
- Start with your superstars when implementing change
- People, not programs make the difference
- Base every decision on your best teachers.
Todd also communicates that these invaluable people may be the first to leave if not acknowledged and listened to. The complainers will stick around and continue to do what they do, but if we (leaders) do not provide the enrichment for our elite just as a classroom teacher should do for their “gifted” then they will take the initiative and go elsewhere. For me that would be tragic.
Jim Collins in Good to Great informs us that that verbal praise is an extremely effective method of ensuring our superstars know they are valued. He also tells us that Great vision without great people is irrelevant. I am very fortunate that I have several superstars that I surround myself with every day. I am very guilty, however, of not letting them know how much I appreciate and depend on them. I think I better go have some conversations.