This is the third in a three-part series of columns by Marybeth Flachbart, who lives in Boise and has more than 30 years of education experience as a teacher, administrator and consultant.
I’ve written about the importance of teachers establishing strong, trusted relationships with their students, student parents and families, and peers. These relationships are vital and necessary to help students learn. The peer relationships help create collective teacher efficacy, which is proven to help educational outcomes.
School administration, both from the school and district level, plays a big role in providing the necessary supports for teachers to build relationships with students, parents, and peers.
For teachers to cultivate the important peer-to-peer relationships, they need time. Principals and administration must make sure any master schedules include time for teachers to collaborate, bond, and learn together. It is critical that time be set aside for these important conversations to happen.
Let’s face it, if it isn’t on the schedule, it won’t happen, or it may happen inconsistently. That would be a disservice to educators, and the result would trickle down to the students.
Administrators can do the following things that will help build that collective teacher efficacy that leads to better learning:
- Create a structure for peer-to-peer collaboration and seek input from teachers to decide how the structure will look
- Provide a facilitator to encourage open dialogue
- If possible, virtual convenings should be done with cameras on so all attendees are engaged
- Encourage educators to share success stories so that others can benefit
School leaders that foster strong relationships among teachers position the school or district to have a strong culture, which ultimately will lead to a better educational experience for students, parents, and teachers.
It all starts with strong relationships. These are things we know and are backed by research, but in times of crisis such as this pandemic, we sometimes forget the basics. To invest in students and have successful educational outcomes, teachers need to be prepared and feel supported. Refocusing on investing in teachers who are then able to invest in students is dependent on how leaders’ welcome educators back to school this fall, and how they prioritize relationship building.