Preparing for the New Academic Year

Beginning School, Leadership

In a couple weeks I’ll be taking the leadership reigns of my seventh school as school principal and, like many leaders looking at taking on leading a new school in 2021, I am reflecting and pondering on my entry plan. 

There is much excitement and yet, at the same time some apprehension, as one prepares to meet and interact with a new school community. 

As a support here are five key processes I’ll be undertaking to help guide me as I prepare for the beginning of my new leadership tenure:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  1. Understand the mission in order to grow people toward the school’s vision: All schools have a purpose for being and, in order to lead successfully, you must understand what the school aspires to become.
  2. Develop strategies focused on achieving the vision: Strategies explain how the initiatives you put into place will reach their intended objectives. Once known, you then can create actionable plans to unite the community to achieve your intended outcomes. Your first 100 days of learning and listening will assist you in determining what strategies you will want to explore in fostering your plans to achieve the vision.
  3. Support and foster staff expertise to nurture the learning: Starting with knowing your staff you can help support their professional growth. This in turn gives you opportunity to tap into the expertise in your midst to help lead the school. 
  4. Study the evidence to understand the results: Given the key role of school leadership is centred on school improvement you need to know what is working well and what isn’t. Analysing the data gives insight into the current practices of the school and will help you understand why “things are the way they are”. This can help prioritise your thoughts 
  5. Eyes toward the future: “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” or so the saying goes. With points 1-4 in mind, the new leader should be looking towards building a brighter future. 

Ultimately, whether you are leading a new school or not, for me the fundamental pillar of school leadership is in the positive relationships we build. No matter how you approach your new school year, you will never have a second chance in creating a positive first impression. How you meet and greet people will go a long way to setting up a successful leadership tenure. Nothing substitutes for building and nurturing positive relationships.

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