Dr. Gerard Jellig has a background in teaching and educational administration that has taught him the important role listening plays in leadership. As a superintendent of a New Jersey school district, Jerry Jellig noticed that administrators tend to have a bias towards action and speaking up. The urge to make immediate action shows a person cares about their job, but it can also lead to an unhealthy work environment. Unfortunately, when an administrator leads a team and doesn’t take the time to listen to others, they aren’t providing their students with the best possible education.
Dr. Jerry Jellig believes that any superintendent in any school district should be sure to ask questions. Simple questions like “What are your thoughts?” and “How can we improve upon this?” can have a huge impact on the quality of the educational programs offered by a school. Superintendents can really boost morale and the productivity of their teams by engaging their staff and leading by example.
When you think about it, teachers do their best to make sure that their students are comfortable in the classroom. By warming up the room, students can feel relaxed and connected to the source material. The same can be said for teachers. Yes, a superintendent should be able to dish out disciplinary measures when necessary, but a superintendent that makes their staff feel comfortable via listening can have a huge impact on the productivity of their staff.
Jerry Jellig offers some additional advice on different scenarios a superintendent can conjure up to empower their staff through listening:
- Observe classroom sessions and offer plenty of constructive feedback. Teachers can then have an opportunity to ask questions and see where they are doing a great job and where they can improve.
- Invite the staff to lunch – Yes, a lot of teachers will eat in the staffroom with one another daily, but this environment can often be negative. Neutral sites can help open up a healthy dialogue.
- Adjust meetings to meet the skillset of the staff.
As a teacher, there’s an understanding that some students are visual learners, others learn better through practice and some learn best through lecture. The same theory applies to how teachers learn. Take the time to ask questions about the staff, educate yourself on what motivates them and it will open up a world of opportunity.