What motivates you? That seems like a simple question, but the answers and the underlying truths can be very complex. During my summer reading I was able to enjoy Robyn R. Jackson's excellent book, Never Underestimate Your Teachers. The book is written for school leaders as a resource to help them analyze the skill and the will of professional educators. Once the school leader has identified the skill and the will levels of the teachers, the leader can then match their professional development approaches to the primary driver or motivator of the teacher. Aligning the right professional development with the needs of each teacher's skill and/or will can help every teacher follow the path to mastery. Here is the winning formula: "If you shape the path to mastery the right way, more teachers will choose it."
Robyn uses the Will/Skill Matrix to help school leaders identify ..."where the path to professional development begins." She explains that teaching takes both skill and will. While everyone has different levels of each, if a leader can use Robyn's matrix to place the teacher's skill sets, then the matching of the professional development can be cleverly selected.
For example, imagine a teacher that falls into the High Will/Low Skill category. The author describes this teacher as someone who is excited to be a teacher. They know they are growing, and they are eager to learn. They try new strategies often, but because their skill level is not yet "high", their strategies are disconnected, and they struggle with all the complexities required for teaching. This can result in average or low level student achievement. However, every leader should take heart! Their high will levels mean they are willing to learn. With proper training, encouragement, and coaching, they can make quick growth and improvement. The danger is without these things, they can lose their energy and fall into the low-will, low-skill quadrant. This is where teachers who have lost hope land. This low-will, low-skill group is the most difficult to help in our profession.
Ms. Jackson also sorts teacher skill levels into four categories. They are: Master Teacher, Practitioner, Apprentice, and Novice. These line up similarly to Danielson's categories...Distinguished, Proficient, Basic or Developing, and Unsatisfactory.
Then, the author gets into my favorite part of the book. She analyzes the primary drivers that move us. She describes the drivers as..."we are all driven by the desire for four basic feelings: autonomy, mastery, purpose and belonging." I love psychology and studying the reasons behind human behavior. This part of the book was extremely interesting to me personally. I was able to easily identify my own primary driver, but I also quickly identified the majority of my staff's drivers.
I don't think any one who knows me would be surprised to know my driver is MASTERY with a strong undercurrent of PURPOSE. And, I was so pleased to recognize all the MASTERY folks on my staff--we all have a similar mindset of excellence. Even more importantly, I saw the need for a balance of all these different personalities. For our campus to be balanced, we also need those AUTONOMY and BELONGING folks. One of my favorite, I mean all-time favorite, articles about personality types is the article that talks about how every workplace needs a balance of chaos and order. Check out the article here:
Click this link: What Kind of Muppet Are You?
Chaos Theory - A Unified Theory of Muppet Types
Cookie Monster is most definitely a Chaos Muppet!
Make certain you watch all the videos at the article link. They really drive home the difference in the chaos and order muppets. This is the best article, and I love the Bert and Ernie video excerpt about cookies in bed. It will definitely make you smile.
Overall, I highly recommend Robyn's book to every leader. She brings her points home in the final pages of the book with the following tips:
- An enemy of growth is impatience; take time to develop your teachers.
- Moving teacher will and skill is a marathon, not a sprint---stay the course.
- Everyone is valuable. "You must believe, and you must help your teachers believe, that if they do the work with intense focus over time, they will become master teachers."
- "If we don't really believe in every teacher, it's a lot harder to believe in every kid."
There are several diagnostics and templates in the end of the book to help leaders execute their new found knowledge with will and skill and primary drivers.
Read this book! It is a mindset shifter.