I’ve taken the last couple of weeks off to spend some quality time at home, recharge my battery, catch up on some reading, and reflect on last school year. As the new school year approaches, I recently reviewed what my staff expects of me in order to prepare myself to meet their expectations.
One of my teachers named, Shawn Johnston (@shawnjohn3399), recently recommended I read Tony Dungy’s book, The Mentor Leader. It’s a great read and there is a common theme woven throughout the book: leadership is about others, not about the leader. What my staff expects of me can be summarized by this theme. The principals I admire most not only know this, but their actions demonstrate this. With that said, following are the top 5 characteristics my staff expects of me:
Be Visible- I often over-promise and under-deliver in this area. It’s not intentional, but every year I fall short of my own expectations when it comes to being visible. Well, I guess it is intentional since I don’t schedule it on a daily basis. I haven’t followed through with my “No Office Day” the last couple of years! Todd Wittaker recently posted on Twitter that administrators should do the “Daily Five: visit five classrooms for five minutes every day.” This is very doable and I’ve already shared this with my administrative team. Also, this year will be different because of the new Ohio Teacher Evaluation System. OTES requires walkthroughs so this will force me and my administration team to not only be visible in classrooms, but to provide meaningful and timely feedback. They also want to see me (us) in the hallways in between classes and at extracurricular activities. Visibility=I care.
Presence– Being physically present is important, but being mentally and emotionally present are essential to my staff. One of our core beliefs at GLHS is positive relationships. Therefore, as I’ve become a “connected educator” it’s expected of me, and rightfully so, to “be there” for my staff- all of them! Be plugged into the moment, embrace each interaction, and make it a priority to make whomever I am talking with feel valued, respected, and honored. Sometimes busyness gets in the way but I realized I view busyness as a badge of honor, when it’s really a sign of being unorganized.
Consistently Follow Through– What I take from this is to establish clear procedures with the staff and stick to them. Additionally, they want students and staff to be held accountable so we can be our very best. A lack of consistency leads to frustration, or the inability to solve a problem. The less frustrated we are, the better we will be for our students and school community.
Support– They want and need to know I and my administrative team have their backs when they try new things, when faced with discipline issues, when they make mistakes, and during tough times. Support looks differently to many people, but the more visible, consistent, and clear I am, the more supported they will feel.
Clear Communication– This includes not only verbal communication, but my ability to actively listen. One of my veteran teachers and good friend reminds me to listen to what they have to say, answer their questions, and show understanding. They will understand if I disagree and will appreciate me simply listening. I reminded the Class of 2013 at the commencement ceremony to “listen to understand not to respond.” I have to practice what I preach.
I’m excited to get the 2013-2014 school year started! It’s an opportunity for a fresh start, it’s a chance to set a positive tone, to review our core values, and to positively change lives and impact futures!