7 Tips for Effective School Leadership
According to Matthew X. Joseph in District Administration, in order for administrators to move beyond operational management and into true leadership, they must first understand the capacity of their staff, then promote open communication and provide useful feedback to them. Director of curriculum, instruction, and assessment at Leicester Public Schools in Massachusetts, Joseph offers advice to administrators who want to transition “from a building manager to an instructional leader” in their positions. His recommendations include the following:
Concentrate on earning respect rather than gaining popularity. While it may be tempting to make a decision based on what your staff wants, Joseph advises that you should base your decision-making process on what students need. According to my observations, “as long as you keep your students at the centre of your decision-making and maintain consistency, most staff members will accept unpopular decisions, especially if you communicate your reasoning.”
Establish a clear set of objectives. When setting objectives, make sure to communicate them to your team so that they are aware of their respective roles in achieving those shared objectives.
Pay attention to what your employees have to say. Avoid making the assumption that your solution is the only viable option, and schedule time specifically for interacting with employees and responding to their concerns. Creating a culture that puts people first demonstrates to employees that you value their input and take their concerns seriously. Thoughtful planning should go into your open-door policy, says Joseph. “Block out the times in your daily and weekly calendar to focus on students and your goals, as well as being visible through classroom visits,” he suggests.
Set a good example. “Exemplify the characteristics that you would like to see displayed by your employees,” Joseph writes. Even the smallest actions, such as choosing where to eat lunch, can provide an opportunity to model the kind of behaviour you want to see in your employees.
Provide regular, constructive feedback to your employees. Make sure to give your assessments as soon as possible after an encounter, and to include examples. Feedback does not have to be negative in order to be useful. According to Joseph, use the opportunity to evaluate employees as a platform for offering praise and building confidence in them.
Delegate. Ensure that you have built a trusting relationship with your employees so that you can delegate some responsibilities to them and free up your time to focus on other important tasks.
Make your meetings count. According to Joseph, “having regular meetings just for the sake of having regular meetings—particularly if there is nothing on the agenda—frustrates people.” Reducing the number of meetings that aren’t beneficial to your team can be accomplished by setting specific outcomes for each meeting and distributing information in other, more time-efficient methods, such as email.