When I was an English teacher one strategy for teaching vocabulary was using a non-example.
This is a great way to teach leadership too.
One way to consider how to show your staff appreciation is to clearly define what not to do.
“When you treat people like children, you get children’s work.”
-Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson
Here are a few ways leaders patronize their staff and harm culture:
Time clocks. In Chicago Public Schools I had to clock in and out of work. Every day I was reminded that I was a cog in the system and that I wasn’t trusted. Because some employees struggled with punctuality everyone was disciplined.
Lesson plans. You don’t have the time to read and provide meaningful feedback on all your teachers’ lesson plans. If you trust your teachers, then why do they turn lesson plans into you? If you’re worried about the quality of instruction in your building, a better investment would be offering robust training and providing meaningful feedback during the observation cycle.
Banning Social Media. People don’t work around the clock while at work. We need to let our minds wander so we can be productive when we do focus. Plus, every faculty member has a phone with a data plan (as do the students). So every site that is blocked is accessible anyway. Blocking social media (or any website at school) is just like the war on drugs. It doesn’t accomplish it’s goal. It’s also a waste of financial resources and wastes the time of those enforcing the policy.
These are just a few examples of what not to do to show staff appreciation.
Some of these decisions are made at central office and are out of your control. That’s okay, it’s the principle that matters.
Anything that requires you to sign-off, check a box, or is compliance-oriented is bad for culture and shouts “I don’t trust you.”
It drains your time that should be focused on doing work that matters.
It’s easy to understand why a school leader might treat her staff like children. There are children everywhere and it’s in your educator DNA.
But it’s the wrong approach.