Administrators, can you do just a tad bit more?

Hey Advocates,

I'm back! Thank you for liking me enough to allow me to invade your digital address again this week. I do have to be a snitch just a little bit. I tell everyone upfront that I'm great at snitching on myself because I want to ensure the right narrative always gets out. Now, I need to leak a secret, but please don't add me to the "Canceled" list. I think you'll appreciate what I'm about to share. Super quick questions: 

First, is there another person you trust to tell your story? How often do you get to tell your side of the story or tell your story? Let's revisit these questions in a few sentences.

It's no secret that we have lunch break talk, prep talk, and before, during, and after PD talk. Let's be honest with each other because all great relationships start with a cup of coffee/tea and a side of honesty. Not all of the talk is about how great our school is or how great our Admin (or Admin team, if you have more than one Admin) is. Far too often, we break bread (or cookies and chips) over conversations that should leave the break room or our classrooms or playgrounds and enter our Administration spaces (Local Site and District Office). Yet, we hold these conversations in the tightest of spaces - with each other. 

Administrators (District Office Admin, come on in and get comfy.), your staff is talking about you behind your back. Hold the gasp and the pearls for a second because I am not done. Sometimes, the conversations are between great and good. However, often, the conversations include wonderings and ponderings of trying to figure out how to get you to see us, hear us, and value us beyond a dry-fit T-shirt (and I love a good dry-fit) or "Jean Day" or a gift card to a well-adored coffee shop. Now, don't stop doing those things because being "free" is most definitely a winner, and wearing jeans on a non-Friday is everything. However, can you do just a tad bit more? Can you invite us into more of the conversations and give us "main character energy", sometimes?

We know your job isn't easy. We appreciate you for having hard conversations and for the long hours you put in to make sure our schools are safe and nurturing. We appreciate the free swag and the social media recognition during Teacher Appreciation Week. But, remember earlier, when I said no one can tell your story but you? We want to gently remind you that you have some master storytellers; I'm talking about the "drop the mic and ask for my autograph later" type of storytellers on your campus. Not just in the classroom either. Have you, as an Administrator, ever considered inviting your Maintenance staff or your Cafeteria staff to deliver a Professional Development session? Have you ever, as an Administrator, considered inviting your Custodial staff to deliver a Professional Development session? How about your Attendance Clerks, Administrative Assistants, Registrar, Bookstore managers, or Paraprofessionals? If your campus has student-teachers, hit the Quan, Cha Cha Slide, and Swag Surf, because they are connected to the newest and most innovative practices and resources. 

Don't these staff members all contribute to the profession and work towards the development of the campus? See what I'm getting at now?

Let me put it plainly and stop beating around the bush: Allow your staff to be involved in planning and delivering site and district professional development sessions. Don't you want to take some things off your plate? This is one of those things, Administrators, that you can hand over to any willing member of your staff and take the rest you need. Just in case you need to hear it from the experts, Seelig and McCabe (2021) informed us that allowing staff to facilitate sessions creates buy-in, develops leadership, and supports staff retention. 

Let's be real. Staff retention alone is a reason to allow staff to facilitate PD sessions. I'm sure you're asking, "What will they facilitate a session on?" My answer is whatever helps them to be authentic and master storytellers while aligning their storytelling to the learning objectives and needs of the PD. My cousin, ChatGPT, is on vacation. For this change to be most accurate in its power and delivery, Administrators, you should poll the staff and see what value and interest they bring to your learning community.

Admin Fam, I've talked your virtual ear off. I only have one final question. Are you willing to detox your professional development system and allow the magic to happen? The answer should be "yes". You simply have to let go and say "yes." Your one "yes" will lead to a systemic change of culture and climate, a heightened sense of staff and student belonging, increased intentionality in collaboration and in shared learning, and a shortened "To Do" list for you. Most importantly, allowing staff involvement in PD is a great way to help you continue to be a transformative leader who leads with an equity mindset.

As always, "sharing is caring." Don't just talk about it; brag about it. Tell us about some of the staff-facilitated PD sessions, because we could all benefit from a "glow and grow" collaborative experience. I can't wait to hear from you… soon… like really soon.

Written By: Sholanda Smith, Content Creator Leading Equity Center


Sign Up For the Weekend Voice

Every Friday you can expect a small and informative message from the Leading Equity Center. The Weekend Voice is meant to challenge your thoughts of education today and to provoke you to take action in your schools.