The role of the school administrator is constantly evolving. Technology, heretofore unheard of educational challenges, and complex demographics are but a few of the driving forces. But as much as things change, they also remain the same. Success means embracing core fundamentals. As the year begins, this is the moment to review those guideposts to success.
Perhaps Steve Jobs said it best, “We don’t hire people to tell them what to do, we hire people so that that they can tell us what to do.” It has been shown time and again that the most effective administrators trust their staffs to make the right decisions. Teachers are no longer looking for bosses, but rather for coaches. Infusing teachers with confidence and trust goes a long way.
For teachers to gain the confidence of their “bosses,” they need to be given increased responsibility, in conjunction with a stronger team work ethic. The bottom line is that principals need to be willing to take calculated risks and provide encouragement as their teachers venture into new and unchartered territory.
Successful administrators understand that engaging the community as a whole is both an essential as well as an ongoing process. This engagement requires that the principal understand both the cultural as well as the social demographics of their communities. This understanding presumes regular dialogue with students, parents, and community members.
But the process can’t stop there. The feedback gained in those dialogues becomes the foundation of insightful and informed decisions for everyone involved. Administrators are in the unique position to be influential vocal advocates for community needs. This advocacy could take any number of forms- identifying individuals or businesses to help the school, initiating services for risk students and families, or creating adult learning program for parents.
Just because the digital world has led to an explosion of communication- email, social media, iPhone, and the list goes on, doesn’t mean that the communication is any better. While social media gives us the opportunity to share our message, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the message is any clearer or that the communication is a two sided dialogue.
In fact, many think that there is an inverse relationship between the plethora of communication venues and the quality of the communication itself. Therefore it behooves the conscientious administrator to be extremely careful and attentive in both articulating the message as well as eliciting feedback so that everyone is on the same page and feels that their voice is heard.
But perhaps the most critical priority involves the students themselves. While all administrators will say that every child matters, not every administrator principal necessarily embodies that ideal. Administrators must foster and maintain a climate where every child is known, valued, and cared for.
This care for every student includes attending to the particular needs of every child. For example, those kids who may be speech or language challenged must be assured that they will receive the necessary services and therapy they require to reach their potential.
Before the advent of teletherapy, for many school administrators, this was a nearly impossible demand. But today that has all changed. Online speech therapy is of the same quality as face to face therapy. It is convenient, cost-effective and can ensure the administrator’s peace of mind, not to mention being an important way that administrators can express their care and concern for every student.
So while the new school year is still fresh, review these priorities, endeavor to understand them deeply, and work hard at implementing them. They are your keys to success!