Four years as a school administrator has taught me a great deal, and a lot about myself. I have spent three as a high school principal and this last year as a superintendent. This past year was another great learning experience. I spent the year trying to get to know people and developing a solid foundation based on relationships. The admin team focused on climate and developing trust within our schools. I have learned long ago that any change cannot be sustained without first creating a healthy relationship. I know very well that as we head into year two, these relationships will be tested and strained due to the many changes that we are implementing.
There will be confusion, and moments of clarity followed by more uncertainty. Challenging the status quo is risky and a path that many avoid. Trust that we are heading in the right direction.
After reflecting on a great year I found 10 elements that continue to guide my leadership. (I am definitely not perfect on all of these, but I strive to do my best)
- Be humble, humility goes along way in developing relationships.
- Listen! Regardless of how busy you are take a few minutes to disengage from the keyboard to listen to the person talking to you. Ignore phone calls if you have someone in your office.
- Patience - just because you know the change initiative inside and out and you feel it is the greatest thing since sliced bread others may be confused beyond belief. Be willing to repeat yourself and sell it whenever you can.
- Overly communicate, I need face to face meetings. As long as they are quality and worthwhile I try to get people together as much as possible.
- Get out of the office as much as possible. Those tedious reports will get done, whats important is getting out and communicating the vision and letting people know that you care and are passionate about what is happening.
- Walk the walk - If you are implementing change and expect your staff to take part, you better too!
- Keep the focus on students when making tough decisions. Don't allow many of the politics involved in schools get to you and veer you off course.
- READ! Take 30 minutes to read daily. I usually get to work at around 6:30AM and try to spend at least 30 minutes reading to start the day. It is our responsibility to be the lead learner.
- Talk education with people. Ask about how classes are going or how that new intervention is working with kids. This allows you to communicate the vision and have real conversations and gather feedback on possible changes.
- Thank people for the little things they do. There are very few thanks in this profession. Let people know that you genuinely appreciate them.
Looking forward to the 2013-2014 school year! Have a great summer!