Dr. Mary Rogers was a thinker – a sociologist, a thought generator, a writer, a leader – and as a new academic many years ago during each interaction we had she always asked questions that made me think. I have shared one specific interaction many, many times in conversations when it relates; it is an example of how learning occurs when one individual engages another, sometimes from a different point of view, by extending or questioning “what is” or the reality of another individual. Dr. Rogers was brilliant at doing this with me and with her students.
I was reminded of Dr. Rogers today as a long-time educator, leader, and teacher preparation expert joined our team in planning for next year. At the conclusion of the meeting I had an opportunity to visit with Dr. Theresa Vernetson, Assistant Dean at the University of Florida, about the topic of low engagement, high satisfaction and what it means for educational leaders. Dr. Vernetson has been in administration at UF since 1981. Our conversation centered on three things highlighted in Results that Last and How to Lead Teachers to Become Great (both texts available from Fire Starter Publishing):
Communicate the “Why.” Leaders must create intentional and structured forms of communication so that all teachers/students are working toward common goals to achieve meaningful results. If a leader is not intentionally communicating, the employees will make up their own story or communicate information that may not be reflective of the leader’s intention or direction. To communicate the “why,” leaders must: (a) hold high/solid/low performer conversations with teachers; (b) hold 30- and 90-day meetings with new hires; and (c) round for outcomes on teachers.
Close the Loop by Rounding. Rounding is one way for leaders to gather information so that they can handle issues or needs in a proactive rather than reactive way. It also helps establish genuine relationships with teachers. Leaders who round on teachers and teachers who round on students produce more efficient systems thereby increasing teacher skill development and increase student achievement, in addition to increasing satisfaction among all groups. That is, closing the loop through rounding creates high engagement and high satisfaction.
Use Key Words at Key Times. Assure teachers/students that you will give them the attention they need to develop their skills and be successful in what they do. Share the plan and detailed actions you and the teacher/student will take to become engaged in skill development/learning. Be clear and provide expectations.
Our mission at Studer Education is to provide students with a great place to learn, teachers with a great place to teach, and parents with confidence that their children are getting a great education. To do this we work with school boards, leaders, and teachers to apply Evidence-Based continuous improvement processes and the principles from How to Lead Teachers to Become Great in their districts to get the best student learning results and create results-oriented school cultures. Visit us online at http://studereducation.com. Studer Education is a division of Studer Group, a recipient of the 2010 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.