Leading a school is hard. No one can argue that. Leading a school after a year of dissatisfaction, low test scores, and a staff that feels misaligned can feel impossible. Here are a few ways to re-launch your school and create a revolution of success:
Use an asset-based approach with your staff
As educators we focus on the assets of our students, but as leaders we sometimes need to step back and recognize the assets in our teachers. If you are feeling misaligned with your staff, create a list with each of their names. Next to each name list at least 3 assets that educator/staff member brings. At the beginning of the year, share the assets you recognize in each staff member and when you get frustrated, get out the list and review.
Create a set of common goals with your teacher leaders
Staff members often feel misaligned when there are not clear and common goals. Sit down with your teacher leaders and create a list of three goals to move the school forward and better serve the students and staff. For the entire year, every staff meeting, professional development and ask of a teacher/staff member then needs to be tied back to those goals. Instead of presenting the goals to the staff, be sure to have the teacher leaders present them with the rationale for each of the goals. Teachers will help to create better buy-in amongst their peers.
Do you know what your teachers need or want to make their jobs easier? If not, survey them. One year I asked my staff, What are the 2-3 things I could do or change to better support you? The top two answers were: A copier that always works and weekly recognition (food was also a common answer). This propelled me into action. I met with our copier vendor, presented him with the data on how often our copier had to be fixed and within two weeks we had a new machine with monthly preventative maintenance. I also worked with a local restaurant and on Fridays that we had staff meetings they brought in a taco or burrito bar for about $100 and my staff felt appreciated and acknowledged. Additional benefit – they were well-fed and more engaged in our meeting and PD! Six months later when I re-surveyed them, almost every teacher noted the copier or the food at staff meetings… WIN, WIN!
Connect with your community
If you are like most schools, your staff does not live in the community where your school is located. Consider connecting with your community. Building community connections will humanize your students and rejuvenate your team. A few suggestions:
- Ask the mayor or a city council member to take a bus ride with your staff, noting the history and neighbors of the community where your students live
- Take your staff to the local Boys and Girls Club or YMCA and have them connect with your students during the summer to get a jumpstart on relationship building
- Visit a local church with your team to connect with students and families in a space that is sacred to them
Appreciate the small stuff
It is likely that if you feel beat up, so does your staff. Take time every day to appreciate the small things about your school, community, students or staff and make it public over the announcements or in a daily bulletin. Acknowledging improvements in hallway behavior, a student helping another, or a staff member tutoring after school feels great to the individual and gives others ideas on how to support the revolution!
By Kristyn Klei Borrero, CT3’s CEO and Co-Founder
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