Without positive relationships between school leaders and teachers and staff, a school community cannot thrive and meet the academic and social emotional needs of its students. These positive relationships impact student outcomes, reduce teacher burnout and turnover by helping to provide a supportive work environment, model healthy relationships for students, and send a message to families that their children are being guided by caring adults who respect and value each other. Due to the ever-changing demands and policy changes brought about by COVID-19 and the stress of working in a remote or hybrid model, there is no doubt relationships between administrators and staff have been altered. The time to rebuild is now, with a new commitment to transparency and authenticity.
- What strategies support building trust and connection with staff and establishing a culture of respect?
- How can we strengthen trust with staff after the challenges of the pandemic and teaching in a virtual or hybrid model?
Set the tone
The tone an educational leader sets is key to the success of the school community. By being open, being present, and engaging with staff, students, and families on an ongoing basis, educational leaders can create an atmosphere where relationships are modeled and valued. This type of accessibility fosters trust in leadership.
Educational leaders can set the tone for supportive, collegial relationships in a variety of ways. Download Cultivating Relationships Through Administrator Actions + Add to Action Plan from Transforming Education for tips, strategies, and practical advice from the field, including being present during the school day; modeling respectful, engaging interactions; and seeking teacher input on policies and procedures, as appropriate.
Using transparency as the core tenet of leadership will help encourage trust within the school community, demystify policy and procedure changes by providing context and set the expectation for staff. Helping the school community understand the goals and why the district makes certain decisions can help ease growing pains and promote a sense of inclusion.
Simple steps like sharing notes from district meetings, school board presentations and trainings are ways to be transparent within a school community. Establishing a voice on social media to celebrate successes, seek input and share struggles will also aid in your efforts while modeling this method of transparency for staff. For insights and inspiration, read this article from KQED + Add to Action Plan.