Obtaining total engagement of every teacher is a campus principal’s dream. “Teacher of the Year” awards and “Teacher Recognition Week” fall short of achieving that goal. Perhaps principals should borrow from Mark Toth’s webinar Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Employee Engagement (summarized in “The Top 10 Reasons That Your Employees Really Quit,” TLNT: June 21, 2012).
Mark Toth delineates the six E’s of engagement: envision, empathize, enhance, empower, encourage, and evaluate. Although Toth is not pointing specifically at public education, his rules of engagement apply. Teachers do not become comprehensively engaged unless the principal communicates a “bold, clear, and inspirational” campus vision and involves teachers in that mental picture. The dynamic principal empathizes with teachers, seeking to “understand their motivations and strengths.” He/she offers meaningful staff development to enhance and update teaching skills. Often this involves launching teachers into 21st Century technology. Additionally, the compelling principal empowers teachers” to do meaningful work.” Empowerment implies trust that the engaged teacher can and will produce desired outcomes. Empowerment also implies patience and encouragement as the teacher moves from his/her comfort zone.
The final “E” of engagement, “evaluate on a truthful and timely basis,” may be the most difficult for campus principals to apply. Principals usually conduct a yearly formal classroom observation and a few classroom visits, write comments into a prescribed document, and conduct a hasty post-observation conference with each teacher. Mandated evaluations frequently fall short of “timely,” maybe even fall short of “truthful.”
In order to implement the six E’s of teacher engagement, the thoughtful principal/leader continually interacts with teachers toward the compelling vision, develops a trusting relationship with each teacher, and encourages teachers toward daily maximum performance. The principal, of course, models total engagement within the shared vision.