A recent article in Greater Good Magazine described the results of a national survey of 5,000 teachers. The authors concluded that the source of teacher frustration was feeling unsupported by their administrators. The Meaning-Centered Leadership approach calls for leaders to focus on building engagement, empowerment, and expertise.

Engagement is built by creating trusting relationships throughout the organization. Active listening and transparent communication are essential components of engagement. Creating opportunities for teachers to regularly connect is essential. Professional learning communities, regular department meetings, and faculty meetings can be used to share information, build relationships, and listen to others. Additionally, research has shown that a 1% increase in student engagement translates into learning gains in both reading and mathematics. Engagement throughout the organization must be a constant focus.

Empowerment is enhanced by collaborative visioning, recognition, and enthusiasm. Including stakeholders voices increases commitment to the new realities of education during a pandemic. Parent and teacher surveys help provide a starting place to build a new vision of instructional delivery. Anxiety and feeling overwhelmed are likely conditions that everyone will experience. The chronic stress of pandemic living requires that organizations build positivity at every level. A positive organizational outlook can enhance empowerment and deepen engagement for all stakeholders.

Expertise is expressed by leaders who show wisdom, optimism, and humility. Wise leaders focus on core values. They understand that mentoring will support organizational growth and development. Pairing that with an optimistic vision of the future will help teachers feel supported and prepared. Co-developed processes and procedures further engage and empower your team. Leaders can support risk taking and experimentation as an organizational norm by admitting mistakes and taking risks of their own. In addition, leaders have the opportunity to establish an expectation of ongoing personal growth. Being transparent in your journey of growth and knowledge provides that example for your team.

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