Friday, August 15, 2014

Reminders For School Leaders-#LeadershipDay14

Today is Leadership Day 2014. Started by Scott McLeod, the day encourages all of us to blog about leadership and leading change in schools. This is my 6th year I've contributed to the day. By the end there will be 100's of posts you'll be able to read, reflect on and share. Definitely check out the list and add your post as well. 

When I was in the classroom I always looked forward to back-to-school. Getting my classroom ready, that feeling of the excitement for a new year left me with the anticipation for great things to happen.

Leaders should have those same feelings. Opportunities for change and growth are around every corner. But how can you get the new school year going on the right foot and keep that momentum going throughout the year?

Establish Relationships-Getting to know my students was the first thing I did every year I taught. There was always that pressure to get starting with the content but I found that if I made connections with my students, I could more easily teach them. I understood who they were, their passions, and their interests. Take the first few days to learn who your students are. The time taken will pay off in the end. School leaders should do the same not only for their staffs but for their students as well. Kids should feel a connections to all the adults in the building so take the time to establish those relationships all around.

Setting Goals-As an educator it’s important to reflect on the previous years, the high points and the low points. Use those reflections to build personal and professional goals for the new year. Maybe you want to learn a new technology skill or challenge yourself to grade differently. Whatever your goals, make them actionable and reachable. You should have not only goals for your school and your teachers but personal growth goals. And these are most important. How will you be better than you were last year? How can you improve as a professional? Set aside the time for yourself to reflect on what its you want to accomplish and how you will get there.

Get Connected-One of the most important ways an educator can grow and learn is to get connected. Joining Twitter, reading blogs and contributing to an online community are all ways that you can hear about the good things that are happening in other classrooms/schools and learn from others. These places can also serve as a virtual sounding board when you run into a problem or need a solution. Many more school leaders are embracing all that social media and being connected as to offer so there are many more opportunities to connect with others. (Not sure where to start? Check out the Connected Educators Book Series from Corwin for some great learning and leadership.)

Celebrate The Good Things-For some educators the thought of inviting parents into the classroom is a terrifying one. Parents want to be involved in the classroom and our schools. And we all know they should be. Make contact with parents as early as you can. Make the school an inviting place and encourage parents and the rest of the community to become involved with your school. Utlize those social media tools to become a PR Machine, sharing the best things that are happening with teachers and, most importantly, students. With email and texting services like Remind, it’s even easier to make those connections even faster. Starting off with the positive makes having to discuss the tough points easier because you’ve established that relationship and dialogue in a positive way first, rather than a negative one.

School leaders are not only managers, they are instructional leaders, cheerleaders, PR champions, and so much more. The role is definitely complex but rewarding. These are just a few of the things you can do. What else would you add? Leave your comments below. 
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