From our newsletter of April, 2016: Jackie offers this for a little perspective. 🙂
1. “I really do care how you feel about me.”
I want you to like me, and I know you don’t like everything I do. When I come off like a hard-ass who doesn’t care about your opinions, it’s mostly because I’m insecure or uncertain of my authority. I’m your boss; the school is at least partly an extension of myself. So I want you to like your job. And I definitely want you to like me.
2. “I don’t think I know everything.”
A few people stepped in, without being asked, and made a huge difference in my professional life. I will always be grateful to them as mentors and coaches. So I don’t offer advice to you because I think I’m all knowing or all-powerful. I see something special in you, and I’m repaying the debt I owe to the people who helped me.
3. “I like when you’re having fun.”
You don’t have to lower your voice and pretend to be serious when I enter your classroom. I know it’s possible for students to perform at a high level and have a little fun at the same time. Busy, engaged students aren’t necessarily quiet and serious. I used to work that way, too. When you enjoy what you do it makes me feel a little better about our school and about myself. I get to feel like I’m part of something more than just the administration.
4. “I really would like to pay you more.”
I have a budget based on the number of students in attendance each day. The largest expenditure is teacher salaries, benefits, and payroll taxes. I am challenged all the time to provide a quality education for all our students with scarce resources. I know that you understand this and are dealing with the same challenge. Teachers are our most important asset. There is no school without the teachers, and you deserve to be well compensated.
5. “I hope you work here forever.”
One year contracts are a part of the uncertainty of the budget, and the way education is funded. I can’t always guarantee that I can hire you back each year. I don’t see you as a disposable part. When you leave, it hurts. A part of me feels like I’ve failed. I want to run the kind of school program people can choose to retire from.
6. “I know you don’t always agree with my decisions.”
I don’t mind differing opinions. In fact, I value authentic feedback and alternative perspectives. When I include other people’s thinking, particularly when it opposes my own, I make better decisions.
7. “I would love to turn you loose.”
I know you can’t stand to be micromanaged. And that’s good, because I hate to micromanage. But freedom is earned, not given. Show me you can fly on your own and I’ll gladly focus on something or someone else. In fact, if you feel I’m micromanaging you, tell me. Say, “I can tell you don’t quite trust me to handle this well. I understand, so I’m going to prove to you that you can trust me.” Pull that off and not only will I get off your back… I’ll respect you even more. I am grateful for teachers who take initiative, act responsibly, and are willing to be held accountable.
8. “I do notice when others don’t pull their weight.”
I’m not blind. But I won’t discipline anyone in front of you. Every employee, no matter how poorly they perform, has the right to confidentiality and privacy. And sometimes I won’t discipline those people at all, because occasionally more is going on than you know. You wouldn’t realize that, though, because we don’t often have the opportunity as a staff to really get to know each other.
9. “There are some things I just can’t tell you.”
Even though I would love to, and even though you and I have become friends. Still, I can’t, especially if it regards other employees.
10. “I worry — about everything.”
I worry about the students. I worry about costs. I worry about the district and facilities and employees and parents and vendors and… you name it, I worry about it. So occasionally I’m snappy. Occasionally I’m distracted. Occasionally I’m tense and irritable and short-tempered. It’s not your fault. I’m just worried. More than anything, I’m worried about whether I can fulfill the trust you place in me as your boss.
I hope you can see a new point of view, and gain a little empathy for your principal, from this.