Real Principals Listen
Many teachers fear that their chances to influence decisions about their profession are eroding. Principals must change this perception so teachers feel empowered as school leaders.
Drawing on the work of communications consultant William Isaacs, Eric Glover discusses in the September 2007 Educational Leadership article "Real Principals Listen" how principals can engage in communication that encourages teacher leadership by fostering the conversational practices of dialogue and discussion rather than debate (which Isaacs terms unproductive defensiveness).
Glover draws on his experience as principal at an elementary school in Los Alamos, N.M. The Los Alamos school district was pushing for standards-based instruction and assessments, and teachers were skeptical. Glover intentionally practiced skills of deep listening, respecting others, suspending assumptions, and voicing personal truths to encourage dialogue within his school. He extended these skills into the process of developing a new 3rd grade report card, which raised seemingly conflicting views between the 3rd grade teachers and district administrators.
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ASCD Express, Vol. 7, No. 15. Copyright 2012 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.