It is inevitable. People move. Their spouses get new jobs across the country. It happens and you always need to always be ready. When it happens during an unexpected time, it is a real curveball. You have to have a system to be ready.
We are experiencing some shrinking budgets in California. During the ebb and flow of educational budgets, times like these create a domino effect of job movement. Teachers are bumping around as the seniority game plays out. There are a lot of great new teachers left looking around at the end of the year so you need to be ready if you get an opening.
A buddy I know in the coast guard does a regular 1 hour flight drill. Afterward, they do a 3 hour debrief. That is an incredible ratio! In education, we do quite a bit of pre-planning but, we rarely spend any time debriefing. If we really took the time to reflect properly, how much more effective could we be?
It's a great time of year to be meditative. Walk around your campus. It's like a blank canvas. Dream big. Visualize some things you would like to see next year. This the time when you have space to think.
Typically I'm not reading a full book unless the work has slowed down. So for me it's Spring Break, Summer Break and Winter Break. When the game has stopped, my brain is ready to take on new information. It seeps in and I can be more reflective.
As an educator you are constantly talking about the importance of reading to students. If you yourself are not popping open a book once in a while, then you're not exactly walking the talk. Also, it just makes life more interesting and it makes me more interesting because I always have something to talk about.
In education, like sports, we get an off-season. I remember how Michael Jordan would always come back from his off-season with a new skill. One year he added a post-up skill to his repertoire. This is usually a big man skill. But his athleticism was declining. He had to find new ways to be effective. He ended up being unstoppable in so many different ways by adding a new layer to his game each year.
Our game is not the sprint. Our game is the long game. We are always four or five months ahead of the team. Our year really begins on July 1. By the time everyone gets back in August, I already have the first months planned out. If you're brand new to administration it is a day to day operation. You are one step behind the game. As you evolve as a leader you need to be 3 months ahead of the game. And you can't get ahead of the game after the game starts. Once the opening bell rings you should...
I'll be honest. I'm not a natural with social media. It is still a bit challenging for me. Face to face is much more enjoyable. However, the game is being played online. Teachers are talking on twitter, parents are chatting on or about facebook. It is simply where conversation happening. I started accounts strictly for professional reasons. I don't post about my family. Professionally, it has opened up another world of sharing, promoting, learning and storytelling.
The real conversation happens in parking lot after the event. Social media is the place we go to feed the parking lot stories. When parents talk to parents the biggest thing they have in common is their school. So, that's what they talk about. We've got to give them something to talk about - if we don't give them content, they will write their own, and it will never be as flattering.
People tend to bend toward the negative. Give them tons...
It is lonely at the top. In the transition from teacher to site leader to principal or director it gets lonelier and lonelier. Partnering with the office staff is incredibly important. This partnership is one way to insulate yourself but also to have a conduit to the outside. These are the people that will walk into your office and tell you to get up and go walk some classrooms.
The secret sauce is letting your office staff into your work life. Sacrifice your pride and privacy to allow your office staff into your world. This way they can manage your incoming messages and tasks and other business while you are out doing what you are most passionate about which is being out talking to people.
My entire career in administration can be summed up as change management. No matter where the initiative comes from we are always managing change. How do we get from where we are to where we want to be? Change management is tough. People resist change. One of my favorite tools is called The Change Matrix and it says in order to create change you need Trust, Vision, Skill Development, Resources, a Payoff, and an Action Plan. If you are missing one piece, the change won’t be successful. However, at the center of it all is clear communication. So if there was one thing work as an administrator, it would be to up your communication game.
Limit the amount of extra thinking your staff needs to do by making making sure the flow of information is seamless and accessible. They already have so much on their plates with their students and/or daily work. Finding documents, finding information, knowing what is happening on a given day, week, month and...
Sometimes appreciation is finding the bright spots in the organization that give us a pathway or potential reality. Appreciation is so important because we are in the job of recruiting and retaining the highest quality people. No one wants to work in an organization where they’re not celebrating their staff and everyone wants to work in an organization where they feel appreciated and they look around and see their colleagues being appreciated. We all come to the edu-space with a heart for children but it’s easy to burn out if we’re not recognized for how hard we are working and what we bring to the game.
We are all probably under-appreciated. And it’s because it's the last we think about in a world where we are drawn to all the problems that need fixing. There are problems and as humans our survival brains are wired to see the problems and to fix the problems. Being under appreciated is a problem that is somewhat...