As a school leader it can be helpful to think of your staff, as if they were your class. The people you lead are individuals. They have their strengths and weaknesses, their likes, dislikes and personality traits. Just as we expect teachers to differentiate for their students, as leaders we should endeavour to utilise the expertise and ability of the people we lead. This is best achieved through knowing and understanding them.
In 2016, Kyle Schwartz, a 3rd grade teacher from Denver, Colorado wrote a book called, “I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Can Change Everything for Our Kids”. The book describes Schwartz’s experience of wanting to get to know her student’s better and asking all students to finish the sentence, “I wish my teacher knew…”
What her students shared was both insightful and at times heart-breaking. Student responses included:
“I wish my teacher knew that my dad works two jobs and I don’t see him much.”
“I wish my teacher knew that my family lives in a shelter.”
“I wish my teacher knew that I am smarter than what she thinks.”
That simple question profoundly changed how she approached students in her classroom.
What do your teachers wish you knew about them?
Spending time with the people you lead, to find out about their lives can be incredibly insightful, informative and rewarding.