1) Rotate leadership positions (dept chair, committee chair, deans, etc.)

Even the best department chair gets tired after 5 years. A shakeup in leadership positions has a number of benefits: It gives other teachers the opportunity to show what they can do; it facilitates the introduction of new ideas into the position; it allows those previously in a leadership position to reconnect with their reads and thereby freshen up their own ideas.

2) Recognize contributions publicly.

Even if people don't think they need public recognition, everyone benefits from being recognized. It shows that the leadership, whether the administration or the department, recognize and are willing to publicly state the contribution that individuals make. It also leaves people feeling good about themselves, which then flows through to their satisfaction and how they treat others.

3) Peer observations.

Peer observations are one of the most powerful professional development tools a school can employ. Teachers informally observing other teachers’ classes has several important benefits. By observing another teacher's class, the observer gets new ideas. By being observed more often, teachers get valuable feedback from their colleagues. Observations also let teachers know that they are not alone in the classroom; there is always someone around they can bounce ideas off of.

4) Solicit student feedback.

Student feedback can sometimes be as valuable as peer feedback. All too often in schools, students don't have a voice. Students are the audience, however, and how they view what goes on in class can help inform teaching. Anonymous feedback can lead to honest and surprising and often very useful observations that teachers have no way of getting without it. Students are rarely comfortable enough to give honest feedback when asked directly or when asked to put their name on it. With Google Forms or Survey Monkey, it is trivial to create and distribute such surveys.

5) Provide free coffee/tea for teaches and a place to enjoy it.

This may seem like a small thing, but if your school does not offer free coffee and tea, and a comfortable place to enjoy it, you are missing out on an inexpensive way to boost morale and strengthen your community.

6) Build a professional learning environment (PLE).

In short, a PLE is an environment in which teachers and administrators are constantly working together to improve student learning outcomes through shared inquiry and experiment and professional learning/professional development. Learning is done as a community as much as, or even more so than, individually, and that benefits everyone and creates a shared purpose. That purpose may derive from the school's mission and goals, but it is stated regardless. (Note that a PLE is not to be confused with a PLC - though they may be part of a PLE - which is a small group of educators working together on a specific task.) See my online course on Creating a PLE for more. This post is not the place for a full-blown explanation of the process of building a PLE.

7) Create an online hub to support teachers.

Professional development is so important, yet many schools treat it as an afterthought. You may lack the resources and the personnel to provide ongoing and meaningful professional development. However, by creating an online hub, maintained by a tech-savvy teacher or one of your IT staff, you can give teachers a place to find professional development resources that they can use on their own. Sylvia Tolisano has a nice write up about this on her Langwitches site.

8) Find local discounts for teachers.

Benefits are an important element of compensation, and many businesses and cultural institutions happily provide discounts to educators. Alumni and parents are normally very happy to provide some kind of benefit from their business or organization as well. It is a simple matter to have someone solicit and publicize these opportunities for your faculty and staff, and it can go a long way to help them feel that the administration cares about them.

9) Cut back on the number of meetings.

Meetings are a considerable drain on teacher time. While meetings are sometimes important, most meetings are not productive and not worth the time that they take out of the teachers’ day. Reserve meetings for instances where it is essential that this particular group of people be in the same room. You might also try stand-up meetings, where the facully gather for a short, 1 or 2 announcement meeting. These should last 10 or 15 minutes at most and, because they are so short, can be called on short notice.

10) Flip meetings.

Another technique to make meetings more productive is to borrow the flipped classroom idea and flip your meetings. Given the ease of creating a video, an administrator or department head can easily create a quick video of herself providing the information that would otherwise be provided at the beginning of the meeting. By viewing the brief video before the meeting, you can dispense with that part of the meeting and move directly to any discussion required. You could even create an online forum for people to post initial ideas before the meeting and then reserve the meeting for clarification and/or hashing out the details.



11) Create a vision for where the integration of technology will be 18 months from now.

Technology integration tends to happen piecemeal in schools, as teachers pursue it on their own or pick and choose the tools they want to use. While this is natural, it can benefit the school, the faculty, and every individual teacher, to have a vision or a goal for where they are headed. This vision can help inform both professional development and departments and individual teachers as they progress in their adoption of technology.

12) Encourage your teachers to build their own professional learning network (PLN).

Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Facebook, among other social media sites, provide an excellent resource for teachers today. Groups of like-minded teachers, for example those teaching the same subject or interested in the same tools, post questions and answers and share resources online that your facully can access 24/7. It is not difficult to create a PLN, but you can facilitate this by directing your faculty to the tools and perhaps even providing them access to materials or an online course - this one by me is free - that would help them create their own.

13) Hire a technology integrator or, if you already have one (or more), support them by making online courses available to your faculty to supplement. There is so much material to cover that in-house integrators cannot possibly keep up and address every need from every faculty member. While you may get some resistance from them - concern that it’s their job - it will make everything easier for everyone. Whether you use subscription sites like Atomic Learning or Lynda, or a site like mine, you will ultimately save time and money.