On Feeling Valued


Some teacher leader types  and school leaders  at my school are part of a book study. In the discussion forum another teacher asked how we could assist new and veteran teachers in feeling valued and supported.  I thought about this and made a list to add to the discussion.  What do you think of the list? Do you agree?  What would you add?

  1.  Everyone needs a voice and needs to be able to be heard. We have to invite each person to find his/her voice, and sometimes that requires lettiou ng go of ourselves.
  2. The more I talk the less I’m listening. Before I talk I should listen and hear what the other teachers are saying (this is why I waited to post).
  3. What’s best for me and for my students might not be best for everyone else. I can’t expect someone to fit my mold and become me (Lord, help us, right?).
  4. Walls of negativity won’t go away unless I build relationships. The more I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth by not listening and by speaking too much the more time relationship building will take.
  5. Finding the good in someone and building on that is crucial. Each teacher–young or old, new or veteran, science or chorus–has a unique perspective and something to offer.
  6. How I say what I say is as important as what I say. Tone is everything.
  7. Each person is an individual–even adults need differentiation.  At a meeting once, my principal said, “I have to say 3 nice things to Maya before I can offer her constructive feedback.” Hearing nice things makes criticism more palatable because I feel valued.
  8. Relationship is crucial. I can’t just play my veteran card and expect people to listen. I need to build relationships by listening, empathizing, encouraging, and caring. Plus, I need to prove myself by how I teach, how work with others, how I lead, and how I carry myself. Then, I can offer advice.
  9. Celebrate small successes. Celebrate growth. Encourage.
  10. Don’t get frustrated when you think someone isn’t listening because you never know–sometimes a person needs to let thoughts sit for awhile.



6 thoughts on “On Feeling Valued

  1. Maya, look, I can read your post, and comment! Thank you! I enjoyed your list, and actually, agree with number 10 most. Everyone is so different in the way they ‘intake’ information, and apply it. When I work with new teachers I think of offering information as a ‘fill in the blank” kind of thing. I do this, and you do __________. Why? It feels that we can honor both new and experienced teachers if we listen to their responses to situations, & the ‘why” of what they did. You’ve really started me thinking, Maya. Thanks!


  2. Thanks, Linda. Im sooooo happy to hear your voice. I’m wondering if you can give me a concrete example of what a coaching this is and what a teacher’s that may be? Could you fill in the blanks? Also, I do feel like sometimes change and adjustment are expected quicker than teachers can process the feedback and understand what truly needs tweaking. And sometimes we forget that without gradual release a person doesn’t know how to tweak his/her practice.


  3. Sorry, this is a bit long, hope it helps explain!

    One behavior that I have discussed with new teachers is putting oneself on a level field with a student through body language. New teachers often don’t know that this is part of relationship building. A ‘fill in the blank’ is: When I want to talk/confer with a student, I bring a chair to his/her place, or invite him/her to the rug area and we sit together, eye to eye. I’ve noticed when you talk with a student, you go to his/her place, and lean over. Why?

    When I was coaching experienced and not so experienced teaches, I asked those with more experience about their traditions, as in “When I think about one thing I have used year after year, I do it because _______________. And then we discuss what might replace it that would be exciting for the teacher, but do the same work.


  4. I think one critical way to help everyone – veteran or new – is to simply ask, “What do you think?” And then just listen. Repeat what you have heard and sit on it. Everyone wants to be truly heard – and that makes them feel valued.


  5. I think the answer to your questions depend on the culture of the District in which you teach. Inexperienced teachers need to understand that their youth isn’t necessarily better, and they need to show proper respect for the people they work with as well as the other way around….this can go in so many different directions…


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