5 Secrets of a Successful School Administrator reveals few major hints of succeeding as a school administrator. Being a school administrator is one of the biggest responsibilities in the world. Equipped with a Master’s degree or Ph.D. and countless years of education-related experience, you’ve been tasked with being the representative of a school or even an entire district. Regardless of your background, gender, religion or ethnic group, these are enormous shoes to fill. The authority you have to make a better school environment for teachers, staff and students is a whole lot of work, but also incredibly rewarding as you’re set to make impact in the lives of so many young ones (students) and elderly ones (teachers). This is likened to the scenario of a gardener who finds joy in watering a garden of flowers because the more they grow, the happier and fulfilled the gardener feels.
With a job so big, it’s often hard to figure out where to start, and how. The need to dot all i’s and crosss the t’s is undoubtedly necessary. We’ve compiled a list of a few things to consider during your time as a school administrator and some tips on how to survive some tough critics, get the job done and do it well. I remember my coach also supervisor of my Master’s dissertation says, “anything worth doing is worth doing perfectly well.”
1. Own the Good and the Bad
As a school principal, you’ll make great decisions that make the masses happy. You’ll also make not so popular decisions that will elicit scowls from teachers, staff and even students. Being a principal requires a thick skin and ability to, “take it on the chin” so to speak. The key is to continue to garner respect even while making an unpopular decision.
In this situation, be sure to confront the brutal, hard facts with kindness and firmness, rather than attempting to squirm your way out of an uncomfortable situation. Confronting something head-on and standing your ground means a confident, competent leader who gets respect. Attempt to diffuse resistance that you will get from an unpopular decision by continuing to be open when talking about methods. Being open to listening to other people’s suggestions and opinions, ask as many questions as possible and accept that people will feel the way they do, no matter the amount of explaining that you do.
2. Take Thinking Time
As an administrator, your day is chock-full of meetings, face to face time, answering questions, observing classrooms and speaking to students, so time is few and far between when it comes to a few moments to collect yourself. While time is an inflexible resource, it’s still incredibly important to close your door and get the things you need to done. Yes, that’s right, we said close your door.
At a scheduled, consistent time each week, introduce a closed-door policy. It could be for 15 minutes or an hour, whatever you need to collect yourself, think through things that require your attention and catch up on any work that you haven’t been able to. Good leaders can manage themselves and their workload as well as their employees (and students, in this case) so pausing the day to recoup and gain traction on your workload is responsible and allows you to focus on the things outside of your workload when needed.
No matter what, your number one priority should be the welfare and education of the kids you are responsible for. If you base your decision making off of anything other than this, you’d be remiss. If you attempt to avoid decisions that will result in some conflict, the students will lose. Keep this in mind when making the tough, unpopular decisions that you will have to (or do) make.
Remember, no matter how small or insignificant it may be, or how large of a decision that you fear will make people dislike you, it’s not about you. Ultimately, no matter what, it’s about the children. You have made a great decision and a great sacrifice to be in the position you are in, and in everything you do and every decision you make, your ego and pride are put last. The field of education is a selfless career and one that I’m sure you love and are proud to be a part of and the benefits of helping our youth far outweigh the amount of “fans” you have.
4. Visit Classrooms
Administrators should never forget what it’s like to be a teacher. It’s easy to, considering your time spend directly with students is few and far between, but to be a great leader and administrator, you need to remember what it was like and the challenges you faced being in a classroom. It’s important to spend as much as time you have to offer in classrooms throughout your school. We don’t mean observing and evaluating teachers constantly. Sometimes just checking in or interacting with teachers and students is valuable.
Keeping in mind that you were once in their position, understand that teachers can feel threatened when you’re present, and even more so if you are doing extensive note-taking. No one likes to feel like they are under a microscope, so if teachers decide to ask why you’re invading their space, let them know it’s for positive reasons. Maybe you’re looking for examples of instruction that you want to highlight to other staff members, or focusing on and discussing the teacher’s strengths.
5. Use Time Saving Techniques
As we mentioned, time is an inflexible resource. There’s never enough of it in a day to get everything done that is required of you. Because of this, time-saving techniques are crucial to keep in your repertoire. One such is to remember to delegate.
If you’re struggling to manage your workload, or are a type-A personality that feels like they can get everything done and don’t want to hand off work to someone else, as an administrator you will eventually down in your workload. Things that you feel you are comfortable with passing off, pass off to your competent and well-trained staff. But remember, don’t pass things off just because you don’t feel like doing them yourself. Be thoughtful about the process and it can do you a whole lot of good.
Another important tip to consider to help save time is to use a hiring agency. A great deal of administrator time is spent looking for the right talent to fill their schools, especially when addressing the growing substitute teacher shortage. By using a hiring service, much like the Substitute Teacher Service, can help out by recruiting, screening, hiring and scheduling qualified individuals to work as substitutes in your school.