By Shaina Baumgarten, Preschool Teacher at Silverstein Hebrew Academy, Great Neck, NY 

A message from a teacher to her school director, presented at the Annual Women’s Chabad School Leadership Retreat, 5783

We want you to understand your role and our role. Your role is to set the environment and the expectations. To give us opportunities and support. To push us beyond what we believe we are capable of and past our comfort zone. To give us space to grow and be more of who we are. Which means that we are likely going to resist and push back because that can feel scary and overwhelming. We may not thank you for the opportunities because we may not yet appreciate them as such. We may not be able to see the big picture, and we may take your challenges as extra work. Maybe our resistance is a form of coming to terms with what you are asking of us. So have patience with us. We are here because we believe in our mission, just the same way you do. We want to be seen as competent and capable and integral members of the team. We need you to help us feel safe, connected, and supported. We need to feel that you trust and believe in us. This will come more from your actions, tone, and body language than from the actual words you use.

We want to know that you see us as people first, and not just workers coming to do a job. When we come to you to vent, we likely are looking for an ear to hear, and a heart to understand. We are not looking for you to fix or judge our problems. We are looking for empathy and compassion. And yes, at times we may also need your guidance and expertise. We need to know that you’ll have our backs.

We want to know that you are ready and willing to get in the trenches and do the work with us when necessary. Whether that’s cutting and pasting, sitting and reading with a child, or covering for us when we need a few minutes break.

We want you to be transparent with us. We are on this journey together with you. We are invested in our schools, and while we don’t need to know every last detail of finances, building issues, and the like, we appreciate clear communication of what is available knowledge.

We want to collaborate with you. Let us use our strengths to shine where we can and help others.

Check-in with us regularly and see how we’re doing. If we work as teams, check in on us as teams too.

We want you to notice our efforts, not just when it comes to results. We need space to grow and to try, and make mistakes and try again.

Sometimes we get caught up in our own narrow lens of our classrooms, and we need your help to see the bigger picture. To give us opportunities for growth and expansion.

Remember that you set the tone. What you offer to us, we can experience, live, and share with others.

We want you to know that we appreciate all that you do for us and for the school. You pave the way to allow us to come and do our jobs. You take care of the behind the scene things and make sure everything is running as smoothly as possible. Your dedication and drive inspires us and encourages us. So Thank you.