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Tips to Enhance Professionalism
posted by: Cindy Omlin | November 07, 2014, 08:23 PM   

Today we feature a guest blog by Dr. Jared Scherz, where he offers some ideas for teachers to enhance their professional growth and their experience as professional educators. 

Teachers need to be treated like professionals, offered meaningful feedback but allowed and encouraged to provide input of their own. If adjustments are needed, they are informed not punished or demeaned. They need administrators who recognize their job is to support the learning process, not micromanage it. A little bit of appreciation goes a long way for an educator. 

How can teachers help their administrators offer more respect: 

• Share your wishes, wants, needs as opposed to your demands or expectations. For example: “What would really help me most, is knowing what you value as well as what you aren’t happy with so I don’t get discouraged.”

• Let your school leader know how you feel when it doesn’t seem you are being respected. For example: “I’m not sure if it’s what you said or how I took it, but I want you to know that I’m struggling with what you said. I hope you’re open to talking about it.”

• Model respect by offering it even when you don’t believe you are receiving it. For example: “I respect your position and I hear your feelings about this. I’m sure you have a perspective on this I’m not fully aware of.”

• Remember that conflict is scary and most of us shy away from direct confrontation. We are fearful for our jobs and may not feel comfortable with that type of tension. Practice in this area is critical.

• Many of us will say that our administrator isn’t approachable: “I could never do that because they aren’t open to it and it would be dangerous.” Always respect your own gut feeling on this although remember that this may be fear talking. Surprising things happen when you take risks.

• Measure success based on your risk taking and not the outcome. If you like the way you experimented with asserting yourself, then the accomplishment has already taken place. Outcomes are out of our control so don’t dilute your effort.

• Respect also means the autonomy to be creative in your craft. With the focus on outcome measures, some degree of freedom seems sacrificed, helping teachers to feel stifled. Creativity is the life blood of a teacher. Finding new and innovative ways to capture students’ attention and stimulate their interest is the challenge that many teachers thrive off of. Look for ways to make the curriculum your own.

Teachers need to see themselves clearly in relation to others. Reflective practitioners can look inward and understand who they are and what they need. They are able to understand how their life experiences impact who they are and how they teach, able to make adjustments to better serve their clients.

Teachers’ best tools are their own selves. Sensing what a child needs, intuiting the obstacles to learning, and modeling accountability are just some of the way educators help their class. The better we know ourselves, the easier this is to do. Example: The most memorable experience my daughter had in third grade is when her teacher apologized after snapping at the students, letting them know she had a bad day and letting them know what she would do differently next time.

• Appreciate how our early and current life experiences influence who we are as an educator. Explore our attitudes about effort, behavior, and relatedness and see if you can link these to the scripts you had growing up.

• What are the current stressors in your life and how are they impacting your ability to be patient, attentive, and enthusiastic in your class? Consider what impact health, relationships, and family are having on you and then consider how they may be impacting your work. Consider what supports are needed to help you reduce stress, such as exercise, diet, and talking with a friend.

• Consider professional development strategies such as reading, coaching, counseling, workshops, continuing education and other forms of growth.

• Take a class in an area you aren’t interested in such as cooking, gardening, or mechanics.

• Keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, experiments, etc… to help hold yourself accountable but also to appreciate your own evolution as an educator.

Teachers need resources to do their jobs well. If teachers are paying for supplies, unable to connect with others who can help guide and support, or recreating the wheel because they don’t have access to tools and tips to do their jobs easier, they will use up valuable time and energy that can be spent with self-care and preparation.

Do you have a list of resources for your professional and personal self: academics, behavior, and personal? Ask your colleagues to help you put together a resource list that you can continuously build throughout the school year.

• Do you regularly look to a blog to stay current with the latest and greatest trends? Ask others who they follow and check out a few different options depending upon what your preferences are.

• Do you have an emergency contact such as WeAreTeachers Helpline to get immediate support on a given issue? Keep an urgent/emergent list of contacts that are both anonymous and open so that you don’t have to search for them when you are most in need. (You can always email AAE!)

• Encourage parents to donate time, money, and supplies to help you in the class. Parents recognize that funds are limited and will often be willing to donate in service of their children’s education.

• There are several websites that help teachers raise money such as:,,, and adoptaclassroom.

• Consider partnerships with local businesses who would like to market their product or service in exchange for donating supplies or funding projects.

Our needs will not be met unless we express and negotiate for them. Even if they are, it is always more satisfying to know we have earned what we receive.

Dr. Jared Scherz is the founder of TeacherCoach, which offers customized personal growth and professional development opportunities through coaching and courses. He is a licensed psychologist, educational consultant, and author of several books on education. Dr. Scherz has been a coach, consultant, and therapist for over 25 years and is currently working to integrate personal growth with professional development to support the whole teacher.

Originally posted by Melissa at AAE

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