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  • Writer's pictureBrad Gay

4 X 4 Q's Remote teams

4 Questions to ask remote teachers

During these uncertain times, many of us as leaders might feel the need to have answers – not questions – for our staff team. Questions to ask our remote teachers may not be a

priority.


It’s natural and understandable. Answers, not questions, seem to be our focus right now as leaders.



However, to do our job well as leaders, questions are what can offer insight, understanding, empathy, and resolution – more than we might think.


The right questions to ask remote teachers can help you, as a leader, understand how your teachers are coping with these tough times of COVID-19 – and what they might need most from you as a principal. Even the act of asking a question in the first place can demonstrate that you care, as a leader.


Sure, the dress up Zoom party with the staff was a nice social event…. But when’s the last time you asked someone what time of day they are most productive while working remotely? A single meaningful question can make all the difference for teacher morale.


Below are the 4 most critical questions to ask remote teachers – plus 10 other recommended follow-up questions to ask. To understand truly how your team is doing right now during these trying times and best support them, start with these questions here…


#1: How would you describe your level of energy these days?


You’re taking the temperature with this question – it’ll give you a good overall read of how a remote teacher is doing. Additionally, because you’re asking about “level of energy,” it gives the other person permission to share that they may feel worn thin and drained more than usual. You want the truthful answer of how they’re actually doing, so you can then accordingly support them as a leader.


Follow-up questions you can ask to better assess their current situation and support them include:

  • Have you been able to take time out or yourself, in any way?

  • How can I support you in that?

  • Are there any tasks or planning lately that feel more like a struggle than usual?

  • How can I adjust things to help make that aspect of your teaching role more manageable right now?


#2: What worries or concerns do you have around the students/parents/team/ and/or school, if any?


You might be nervous to ask this question… which is a probable sign you should ask it! The only way you can alleviate concerns for the teacher is if you know what they are in the first place. Giving your team space to admit what they’re worried about also reduces some of its ominous nature: What is known and shared can soften the edges of anxiety.


Follow-up questions you can ask to figure out the best next steps to address their fears include:


  • What can we communicate more often and more transparently, to help reduce the concern around X?

  • Is our plan for the next three weeks clear?


#3: Do you feel equipped to do your job well?


You no doubt care about performance. However, we can unintentionally be hindering our team’s performance. This question uncovers how we may be accidentally be getting in the way.


Follow-up questions you can ask to remove barriers for your team include:


  • Is it clear what needs to get done, and the expectations behind student output required clear?

  • Am I being respectful of the amount of time you have to accomplish something?

  • Can I be doing a better job of protecting your time?


#4: What can I do to help create an environment for you to do your best work, while remote?


Of all the questions to ask remote teachers, this might be the most important. The answers will directly inform how you as a leader can be doing differently – or doing more of. Be sure to ask at least a few follow-up questions to know how you can translate your team’s answers into action.


Follow-up questions you can ask to better understand where your team member is coming from:


  • What time of day, while working remotely, are you most productive?

  • Is there anything I can do to ensure you get that time to focus on your work?

  • What feels confusing right now?

  • How can I improve the clarity or cadence of my communication?

  • What can I adjust in my own leadership style?



During your next one-on-one meeting, try asking these 4 critical questions – or some of the 14 suggested follow-up questions.


Whatever you do, just at least ask one question.


Don’t fixate merely on answers as a means to give assurance as a leader. Perhaps the greatest assurance during these times is you asking questions that show you’re serious about supporting them, in the first place.


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