Thursday, October 21, 2010

Private/Independent School Teachers: Strategies for Success #1

In a series of postings, I want to focus on strategies for success for teachers – particular attention is given to private/independent schools.

In no particular order, these strategies are gleamed from numerous teachers with whom I have worked, as well as my own personal experiences.  I encourage you to share your own thoughts about these strategies and feel free to suggest future topics.

Our first strategy:

“Be sensitive to the needs of the private school student.”

Simply explained, private schools are in the customer service business.  Parents will vote their satisfaction with their tuition dollars – which is needed for the school to exist.  This does not, however, mean that schools and teachers should make decisions that are contrary to the mission of the school.  Rather, the challenge is working with families on an individual level to educate them about the school’s mission and value while linking the needs of the student and family to that mission. 

In most situations, schools that are student centered and can articulate how the mission, as delivered through the classroom, addresses the student’s needs are very successful in retaining their families and creating positive and productive environments.  Obviously, such an approach requires a commitment to service leadership and the willingness to abandon one’s “ego” at times for the sake for the school’s mission.

Another way of looking at this strategy is to fully embrace the concept of preserving the dignity and respect for each student, regardless of one’s personal opinion.  This is also very difficult at times, especially when there is unreasonable resistance to the idea that the opinion of someone other than the teacher (like a parent for example) could possibly be the right opinion.  In that situation, vent to your administrator – but demonstrate the flexibility, thoughtfulness, temperance, and prudence required of a professional.

Remember, your school’s mission will define the non-negotiables – seek guidance from your administrator as needed. 

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