As we begin a new year and having just completed my first term as the principal of an international school, I have, like many leaders, taken time to reflect on my learning. While not outlining the circumstances that lead to the learnings, I offer the following few points for your consideration.
- Doing the tough things first. Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Knowing that our energy levels diminish as the day unfolds, it is a good idea to handle tough decisions and tasks early on. Better to address challenges while you are fresh.
- Set precise goals and repeatedly remind your staff. A key to achieving success is to ensure all of your team is on the same page. This is as important for the experienced leader continuing in the same school as it is for the new leader beginning a new school.
- Don’t respond to emails during the day. A number of colleagues of mine (unconsciously) boast of how busy they are and how often they respond to emails during the working day. While not withstanding the importance of attending to work related communication, it can be a distractor to the scheduled tasks of your day.
- Be kind to your staff. All teachers, whether directly or indirectly, seek guidance, affirmation and even correction. Working closely with staff is the instructional leader’s key ingredient for success.
- Students are Students. Regardless of where you lead, students have the same traits. They all have a yearning to learn. Taking time to listen to students helps to develop a balance view on school climate.
Each school has its own nuances to address and as the new leader becomes immersed in the culture and philosophy of the school, the greater the contribution he/she can make to the school.
Happy New Year.