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School Leadership: Morale Remains

As a Master's student and veteran teacher, I have had many experiences conversing with and observing school leaders.

The Leadership Role

A Focus On Growth

As a school leader, the principal must strive for continuous growth and improvement. This involves evaluating his or her staff and their effectiveness. There are many ways the school principal can evaluate their staff and gain valuable information regarding their needs and strengths. This written work will focus on three ways in which the school principal or leader can increase instructional expectations without damaging morale. It is important to show leadership in this area as school employees will more adamantly follow and respect a school leader that has high expectations. Maintaining morale in a school setting can be challenging. You see teachers burn out after just three months of teaching. Their morale has fallen, and discouragement sets in. It is oh so important to keep staff spirits up and give them something attainable to strive for.

Feedback Is Key

First, feedback is a huge component involved in establishing expectations. By providing feedback on both the good and bad and focusing on strengths and areas for improvement, the school leader becomes an effective mentor for all staff. Expecting continuous growth shows staff that the school principal believes in them. It builds their self-esteem and as a result, their morale (Sorenson & Goldsmith, 2009). Principle number 3 of the principled personnel model pivots on assertiveness and honesty. If personnel know what is expected of them and respect the principal's honest judgment, feedback is openly accepted. This can increase the instructional expectations for teacher performance without lowering morale. Being honest may mean informing one of the new teachers that they need some more training in behavioral management. It is important to approach a situation like this one in a collaborative way. Starting by asking, “How confident do you feel in the area of classroom management”, can be a great collaborative conversation starter.

Positive Learning Communities Are Essential

Secondly, fostering a positive personnel-centered learning community will increase staff collaboration. DuFour (2004) supports learning communities in that they encourage collaboration and a collective purpose. As a school principal, measuring improvement is very important. A Positive Learning Community can help provide a way to measure team efforts by monitoring the effects of team goal setting, collaboration, and planning. This collaboration can help teacher effectiveness increase due to providing role models, new ideas, and teamwork (Sorenson & Goldsmith, 2009). This is where components of principle number 1 – respect is fostered. When members of a learning community see each other as equals and respect everyone’s strengths and differences, growth and Improvement can occur. Focusing on common goals such as parent participation and classroom management can foster cohesiveness across the entire school, developing it into a well-oiled machine. With a collaborative climate that is organized and effective, morale is increased and maintained.

Monitoring And Evaluating

Lastly, regularly monitoring and evaluating personnel can improve teachers’ instruction and help them identify areas of focus. Providing evaluation data can help staff see where they need additional training. It builds responsibility (Principle 4) (Sorenson & Goldsmith, 2009). For example, providing a teacher with evaluation data from their yearly assessment will make the teacher aware and give them an opportunity to collaborate with the principal on how to improve. The great thing about evaluations is that they show both strengths and needs. Keeping morale high means celebrating success and recognizing achievements. As a result, constructive feedback regarding assessment data can improve teacher instructional practices and student performance while still maintaining morale.

Let's Get Started

There are many ways to improve teacher effectiveness by increasing expectations. The trick is to maintain morale at the same time. Whether creating a community of professionals, giving constructive feedback, or monitoring and evaluating, it is important to stay positive and to be honest. This will help all parties see their own areas of strength and need as well as collaborate regarding instructional expectations. The school community is there to pick up the downtrodden and encourage them through feedback, communities of learners, and evaluation. Don’t forget that you hold the balance of both morale and performance in the palm of your hands. Where will you begin to foster morale and increase staff effectiveness?

It is all about growth. If one does not know what they're doing wrong.....how can they fix it?

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References

DuFour ASCD, R. (2004). What Is a Professional Learning Community? Retrieved February 11, 2019, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may04/vol61/num08/What-Is-a-

Professional-Learning-Community¢.aspx

Sorenson, R., & Goldsmith, L. (2009). The Principal's Guide to Managing School Personnel. Thousand

Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.