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10 Qualities of Effective School Leadership

Posted on Wed, Jan 15, 2014 @ 13:01 PM

effective school leadershipWhen we think of effective school leadership, many of us immediately conjure up an image of the rebels we find on the silver screen: ego-driven lone stars who ride in on white horses, rack up bodies, and do it all on their own.

Effective school leadership, however, has little to do with flamboyance, charisma or a larger-than-life ego.

We agree with Dr. Robert D. Ramsey’s assertions about authentic leaders: They “give others credit while channeling their personal ambition into achieving a collective success. They are doggedly determined, realistic (willing to face hard facts), and terminally optimistic about the certainty of ultimate triumph.”

We’ve been reading Ramsey’s book, School Leadership from A to Z and would like to share 10 of the author’s qualities of effective school leadership.

10 Qualities of Effective School Leadership

An effective school leader:

Has a “can-do” attitude: Confidence gives you courage and extends your reach. It allows you to take reasonable risks and do more than you thought possible.

Faces reality and expects others to do the same: Effective leaders don’t kid themselves. They deal with things the way they really are, not just the way they wish they were. This attitude gives others permission to get real and deny denial as well.

Demonstrates faith in people: Without an attitude of trust, a principal or superintendent can be little more than a policeman constantly on the lookout for violators.

Holds a positive view of the future: Effective leaders are stubborn in their commitment to hope. Their realism keeps them from having a Pollyanna attitude, but they steadfastly believe that all obstacles can and will be overcome in the end.

Shows an open attitude toward change: Effective leaders are willing to shake things up, raise the roof, and—if necessary—turn the organization upside down to get desired results.

Values honesty: Effective leaders are authentic leaders. Anything less doesn’t work because students, teachers, parents, and school-board members have a built-in radar for detecting phonies.

Reflects an attitude of unselfishness: You can’t be your best as a school leader until you learn to “de-center” yourself—accept that you are not the center of the universe, or even of your own school.

Makes it clear that giving up is not an option: Winston Churchill’s “We’ll never quit” attitude embodies an attitude that saved an entire nation in wartime. Just think what it can do for your school.

Shows a willingness to accept conflict as a part of doing business in a public institution: Real leaders don’t back down from necessary confrontation and aren’t afraid of a fight when it truly matters.

Is passionate about the work and not afraid to show it: More than anything else, strong emotion—a passion that won’t let up—separates peak performers from the others. It’s true in all organizations and especially true in schools.

Photo credit: Photosteve101

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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, effective principal, educational leaders, Role of Principal in School, new principal, effective school leadership

Simple School Bus Safety Education Can Nearly Eliminate Accidents

Posted on Thu, Jan 09, 2014 @ 09:01 AM

school bus safetyAccording to a recent article by Jeffrey Cassel, the president of School Bus Safety Company, there have been 92 child fatalities in the “danger zones” around school busses in the last eight years. Of these fatalities, 37 were caused by passing vehicles; 24 by being in front of a moving bus; 12 from staying too close to the side of the bus; and 10 from students chasing after busses.  

These accidents are tragic, especially since they could have been avoided by implementing simple safety measures.

Passing vehicles
You may not be able to completely eliminate students crossing the street after exiting the bus, but you can teach students and bus drivers that:

  • Students should only cross when the driver indicates that it is safe
  • Once the driver gives a predetermined signal, the student should stop at the bumper of the bus and look left and right before crossing

Crossing gates
Currently, 26 states have made crossing gates on busses mandatory—and for good reason. In the 20 years Cassel acted as Vice President of Corporate Risk Manager for the Laidlaw group, he oversaw a fleet of busses that grew from 15,000 to 38,000. In the first 10 years that the fleet did not have crossing gates, there were 15 child fatalities.

A decade later, after adding crossing gates to the busses, there was only one child fatality.

Even if your busses don’t have crossing gates, bus drivers can prevent accidents by “counting students away”: If five students exit the bus, the driver should know where each student is before pulling off.

Stay away from the side of the bus
Once students exit the bus, teach them to take at least six steps directly away from the vehicle

No running after the bus
Running after the bus is extremely dangerous and cannot be tolerated. If drivers see students chasing the bus or banging on the side of it, they should stop, but not allow the student on board. By showing the student that there is no benefit to chasing the bus, students will quickly learn not to do it.

To listen to part I of Cassel’s webinar, School Bus Safety Begins and Ends with the Drive, click here.  

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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, effective principal, educational leaders, Role of Principal in School, new principal, school bus safety

5 Tips to Successfully Implement School Improvement Programs

Posted on Fri, Jan 03, 2014 @ 16:01 PM

principalsIf you are an educator, you’re well aware of the fact that:  

  • We live in an era of high-stakes testing
  • Our evaluations are tied to student growth
  • We are expected to quickly turn around low-performing schools
  • We must ensure that every student is career and college ready

In an effort to fulfill these demands, many schools turn to “new and improved” programs intended to quickly improve student achievement.  In spite of our good intentions, though, many of these programs fail—and it’s not simply because the programs are flawed.

According to Jason LaTurner and Dale Lewis, authors of a recent article in Seen magazine, programs fail because we are “unable to effectively manage the implementation process.”

Based on their research and experience, LaTurner and Lewis offer five key insights to help educators move beyond the initial adoption phase of a program and successfully implement it.

5 Tips to Successfully Implement School Improvement Programs


Don’t simply adopt a new program. Implement it
Receiving grants and adopting a new program is an excellent first step, but it does not guarantee successful implementation. Say, for example, that your school receives funding for a new one-for-one program that gives every student access to tablet technology. This is great news, but consider the following questions:

  • Is this new technology tied to specific learning objectives?
  • Are these objectives and the learning tools grounded in research?
  • How will teachers and students use this technology?
  • How will you train staff to implement this new program?

Change must be personal
Most likely, your staff will respond to the new program in a variety of ways: some will be enthusiastic, others will be skeptical, overwhelmed, and perhaps even hostile about these changes.

In addition to training your teachers, survey and interview them. This will not only give you data, it will also give you a better sense of the kind of support they need.

Define the Change
In addition to the initial training sessions, LaTurner and Lewis suggest that administrators “provide staff with a clear, specific, and shared description of what implementation of a new program or practice should look like.”

The description should look at a range of behaviors. Define what ideal, acceptable and less acceptable forms of implementation are. Additionally, provide detailed descriptions of the materials that should be used and the types of activities students might engage in.

Use data before, during and after
This tip could (and perhaps should) be number one on the list of to-do’s.

Before you implement your new program, collect and analyze data. This will help you determine if the program is even necessary; it will also help you set realistic achievement goals.

During implementation, you should also be collecting data to ensure that you know what is going well and what needs improvement.

Data collected after the program has been implemented will obviously help you determine the impact of the program.

Commit for the long haul
Many new programs start strong, but momentum and enthusiasm can quickly deteriorate if the administrator shows little interest in the program and chooses not to take part in training sessions. Commit for the long haul. Talk to your teachers, support them and don’t give up when things get tough. 

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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, effective principal, educational leaders, Role of Principal in School, new principal, school improvement programs

10 Ways Principals Can Show Teachers Appreciation

Posted on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 @ 14:12 PM

teacher appreciationLike all holidays, Teacher Appreciation Day/Week officially comes once a year. While most teachers will graciously accept any appreciation they can get—even if it’s only once a week or once a year—we’d like to share a few simple ways that you can start recognizing teachers throughout the year.  

10 Ways Principals Can Show Teachers Appreciation

  • If you live in a part of the country that gets snow, head out to the parking lot before school ends and brush the snow off your teachers’ cars. There’s no need to tell teachers about your act of kindness; they’ll figure it out by process of elimination.

  • Send positive emails and send them often. These don’t have to be lengthy for them to be meaningful. A quick sentence will do.

  • Reward teachers who go above and beyond by volunteering to cover their classes for the day. This should be treated as a “day off.” That means no grading papers or prepping!

  • Instead of giving teachers the entire day off, give teachers the choice of having an administrator cover two classes for the day.  

  • Find parent volunteers and start a “secret committee.” Every month this group will either prepare or serve surprise lunches for teachers.

  • Brag about your teachers’ accomplishments in newsletters, staff meetings and presentations to parents.

  • When other teachers, students or parents say something kind about a teacher, let that teacher know.

  • Here’s a suggestion from one of our Edmodo friends, Mrs. Pratt: During the next professional development event, order lunch and cover the tables with white butcher/bulletin board paper. Before teachers arrive, write personal notes about every one of them on the paper with crayon or marker.

    As the teachers arrive, give them time to walk around the tables and read all of the wonderful things you and the vice principal have said about them all.

  • Start having your meetings in a different classroom every week. It may surprise you how little time your teachers have spent in each other’s classrooms. Not only does this make for a nice change of scenery, it gives teachers the opportunity to “brag” about their own classrooms or activities.

 

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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, effective principal, educational leaders, Role of Principal in School, Teacher Appreciation, teacher appreciation week

5 Ways to Turn Challenging Parents Into Allies

Posted on Fri, Dec 13, 2013 @ 15:12 PM

challenging parentsParents can be our most important allies—and while most of them rise to the occasion and meet us halfway to resolve student behavior issues, there will always be parents who refuse to believe that their child could ever behave badly. To help you transform these challenging parents into allies, we’d like to share five tips from this month’s issue of Think Teachers.

5 Ways to Turn Challenging Parents Into Allies


Speak in Private
It’s not uncommon for parents to have their child in tow when they meet with us to discuss their concerns. While the student may have his or her side of the story to share, meeting with the parent and the child at the same time is usually counterproductive: It can lead to interruptions, emotional outbreaks and often makes parents feel more of a need to defend the child.

While you’ll eventually wish to speak with the parents and student together, start by meeting with the parents first. 

Wait Until the Fire Cools
Some parents schedule meetings; others simply show up. We’re always wary of having impromptu meetings with parents. More often than not, parents who just show up are still heated and unready to discuss the issue in a calm, collected manner. Even if you have an open-door policy, there’s really no reason to meet with angry parents.

Preface Your Observations
When speaking with parents, preface your observations with subjective language. I feel,”It’s my understanding,” and “it’s my belief” all suggests that what you are about to say is open to interpretation; it also suggests that you are interested in hearing the parents’ perspective. Prefacing your observations will keep parents from becoming defensive and give them the opportunity to share their perspective.

Have Tangible Evidence
Many parents are in denial because they haven’t seen any tangible evidence of the behavior in question. Always document every instance of the child’s behavior and have the list ready to show the parents. You may wish to include disciplinary write-ups and test scores on hand as well.

Listen and Be Empathetic
Give parents the necessary and uninterrupted time to give you their side of the story. They may have information that puts the behavior into perspective. And keep in mind that parents may be experiencing stress that is only compounded by dealing with those of their child.

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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, effective principal, educational leaders, Parent Engagement, Role of Principal in School, new principal, parent partnerships

Empowering Teachers: How and Why We Should Do It

Posted on Thu, Dec 05, 2013 @ 09:12 AM

empowering teachersMost principals would agree that we should empower teachers. But what does teacher empowerment really mean? Furthermore, why should we empower teachers? And how do we do it? Below we’ve taken a shot at answering these three questions.

What does teacher empowerment mean?
While educational gurus like Bolin (1989), Lucas, Brown & Makus (1991) and Lee (1991) all use different language to describe teacher empowerment, their definitions all share common tenants:

  • Rejecting hierarchy built upon control and fear
  • Enabling teachers to have a voice
  • Encouraging teachers to use their professional judgment to make major decisions about the curriculum and how it is presented
  • Providing teachers with a means to make decisions that have, in traditional systems, been made for them

Why should we empower teachers?

  • Teachers are already making decisions
    Research suggests that teachers make 30 non-trivial work related decisions every hour in a classroom context where an estimated 1,500 interactions may take place between teacher and pupils each day (Burke, 1992). Not only are teachers making big decisions—and making them often—their decisions are impacting a huge network of people including students, parents, colleagues and administrators.

    If teachers are already making high-impact decisions, it only seems logical that we equip them with the tools, freedom and support to make the best decisions they can.

  • Empowering teachers will make them more receptive to growth
    Teaching is complex for a variety of reasons, but a major one has to do with the fact that, as B.S.V. Dutt suggests, “Knowledge is always incomplete, subject to change, and always open to improvement.”

    Should we find that a teacher’s knowledge base is incomplete or in need of improvement, we will have a much easier time helping them grow if we have already established meaningful, trusting relationships with them.

  • Empowered teachers are more likely to respond well to the demands of the profession
    Teachers have an overwhelming set of demands placed on them. But these demands become far more manageable when teachers know we see them as competent and reliable professionals. 

The list of reasons for why we should empower teachers could continue, but let’s move on to how administrators can empower teachers.

How can we empower teachers?

  • Listen and react to feedback
    Teachers need to know their voice matters. One way to prove that it does is by soliciting their feedback and collaborating with them to solve issues. Collaboration is not always easy, nor is it always “efficient” in the short term—but the results usually speak for themselves.

  • Create a unified vision
    Most businesses have a slogan or a vision statement that sums up—for both customers and employees—who the company is and the values they stand for.

    Although the message of a school might seem straightforward, your community will benefit from taking a critical look at what makes your school unique. One of the best ways to ensure that you and your teachers share a common goal is by collaborating on a vision statement. Of course, you can do this on your own, but your teachers are more likely to buy-in if they are involved in the creative process.

  • Empower teachers to think differently
    It is important to establish a set of clear goals and responsibilities, but always remember that common goals can be achieved—and surpassed—when teachers are empowered to think differently, bring forward new ideas and even take a different approach that fails. When we fail, we (hopefully) learn. When we learn, we grow.  

  • Look for quiet leaders
    Think back to the time you spent in the classroom. If your experience was anything like mine, I noticed that it was often the quiet students who were the best leaders.

    While many students had a tendency to speak impulsively during heated in-class discussions, some of the quiet ones hung back, reflected and waited until they had fully developed their thoughts before sharing. With a little encouragement, I found that these students would open up and completely change the trajectory of the discussion.

    Reach out to the quiet teachers. They are often some of the best leaders—they just need a little encouragement.


References

  • Bolin, F.S. (1989). Empowering Leadership. Teacher College Record.
  • Lucas, S., Brown, G.C., & Markus, F.W. (1991) Principals’ Perceptions of Site-Based Management and Teacher Empowerment. NAASSP Bulletin, 75. (357)
  • Lee, W. (1991). Empowering Music Teachers: A Catalyst for Change. Music Educators Journal. 78 (1).

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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, effective principal, educational leaders, Role of Principal in School, new principal, empowering teachers

The 3-Minute Classroom Walkthrough in 5 Steps

Posted on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 @ 09:11 AM

classroom walkthroughThere are several reasons principals should regularly conduct classroom walkthroughs.

  • First, they make it clear to teachers that teaching and learning are a priority to us.
  • Second, the more we know about the instructional decisions of our instructors, the more we know about the health of our schools.
  • Third, the more frequent the observations are, the more comfortable our teachers and students will be with the process.

Keep in mind that classroom walkthroughs do not need to be long, invasive or formal for them to be meaningful. If you simplify the observation process and stick to the five steps outlined in Countdown to the Principalship, your observation should really only take about three minutes.

The 3-Minute Classroom Walkthrough in 5 Steps


Observe student engagement
It only takes a split second to observe whether or not students are engaged in their work. Are they listening, writing, interacting with the teacher or other students, or working alone?

Observe the lesson and learning objectives
Assessing what is being taught and determining whether or not the objective of the lesson is aligned with curriculum and ethical standards is where you should spend most of the next couple of minutes. 

Observe teachers’ instructional strategies
Now that you understand the curricular focus, you are ready to look at the teacher’s instructional strategies. Is s/he using Socratic questioning or giving feedback? Are students working alone or in groups, are they taking notes, problem solving, etc.?

Always complete the first three steps and do your best to withhold judgment; you are simply gathering data and looking for patterns in classroom instruction.

If time permits, conclude your walkthrough with the following two steps:

Does the lesson connect?
During this step, you should be looking to see if you can make any connections between this lesson and previous learning objectives. Ideally, every lesson should build upon the preceding lesson. 

Observe safety and health Issues
Are there any noticeable safety or health issues that need to be addressed?

If you decide to make brief classroom walkthroughs a regular part of your routine, you’ll want to inform your staff first. Here are five things you might mention to your teachers:

  • How often you will be stopping by their classrooms and how long you will be there.
  • What the visits are not: Explain that three-minute walkthroughs are not a part of the formal evaluation process, nor will they be used to judge or critique teachers.  
  • What the visits are: Teaching and learning are the two most important things that happen in schools—walkthroughs are simply a way to honor their importance.

    Many of us have taught at schools where there were months, maybe even years, when the principal did not step foot into the classroom. What this suggests to many teachers is that what they do is not important to the principal. Explain to your teachers that this is not the message you wish to send.

  • That you have a lot to learn from teachers: One of the best ways to learn about learning in schools is for you to be in classrooms regularly. You may be in charge, but that doesn’t mean you have all the answers.

  • What teachers should expect from the walkthrough: Explain to teachers that when you stop in, you will only be there for three minutes—unless the teacher indicates that s/he would like you to stay longer. During this time, explain that you will be observing three things: student engagement, content and the methods used to teach the content.

  • That teachers are welcome to talk to you after the visit if they want specific feedback.

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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, effective principal, educational leaders, Role of Principal in School, aspiring principals, classroom walkthrough

The Power of Being a Quiet Principal

Posted on Fri, Nov 22, 2013 @ 14:11 PM

principalThere’s a lot to love about contemporary American culture: It’s brimming with life, moving, changing and, ostensibly, always improving. But we’ve noticed something else about our culture: More often, its motion tends to be directed outward rather than inward.

Instead of mulling over our thoughts privately, we declare them to the world through open platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Popular culture and self-help gurus encourage us to “think on our feet,” join in and be gregarious risk-takers—but who is urging us to be quiet, contemplative, and introspective?

We live in an extroverted world and while we do believe that leaders must, by the very nature of the role, distinguish themselves if they want to influence others, we question the idea that leaders must lead through extroversion.

If you are a principal—and an extroverted one at that—here are a few reasons to consider the merits of quiet leadership.

The Power of Being a Quiet Principal

  • Principals have the power to influence a school’s success, but rarely do they ride in on a white horse, bark a few orders and lead the institution to victory. No, they must first gain the trust of their colleagues, students, faculty and parents.

    Influence comes with trust—and trust comes when we listen, give respect and build stable relationships.

    A commonplace belief is that influence is an event
    , the result of first impressions, the clothes we have on, our demeanor and magnetism. We would argue that it’s actually the inverse: Influence is a process. If we think we’ll win over others by commanding the room, chances are that we’re not only going to alienate our colleagues, we’re also going to miss out on a lot of opportunities to learn from them.
  • Our schools are diverse and so are the students, teachers and parents that are part of them. While many of us are accustomed to the dominant culture—one that moves and expresses itself outwardly— many cultures find this abrasive. Those with a quiet confidence are more likely to win over cultures that are less aggressive and prefer a reflective, low-key approach to leadership.
  • Thanks to burgeoning technology, our culture has become accustomed to immediacy. And while we love and cannot deny the benefits of having it at our fingertips, we find that technology is not always conducive to that careful thought required of principals.

    Here’s an example: On a daily basis, we receive dozens of emails from parents, teachers and staff. Some responses require only a short sentence, but others aren’t so simple and take time for us to quietly reflect before responding. When this happens, many of us feel like we have to make a snap judgment and dash off quick responses, but quiet leadership values reflection over quick action—and often the results speak for themselves.
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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, effective principal, educational leaders, Role of Principal in School, new principal

10 Things First-Year Teachers Said About Their Principal

Posted on Fri, Nov 15, 2013 @ 14:11 PM

new principalMost new teachers have spent, at minimum, 17 years inside the classroom as a student. Despite this, it is often shocking to beginning teachers how different and overwhelming it is move from behind the student’s desk to the front of the room.

This initial period of transition is a precarious one; it’s also one that veteran teachers and administrators often forget about experiencing themselves.

We’d like to share 10 insights from real, first-year teachers. It’s our hope that these quotes will not only give principals a look inside the lives of beginning teachers, but also give principals a sense for how they are perceived by others. These quotes come from Barbara Brock and Marilyn Grady’s book, From First-Year to First-Rate: Principals Guiding Beginning Teachers. We highly recommend adding it to your reading list.

10 Things First-Year Teachers Said About Their Principal

  • “The most difficult part of [my new job] was the expectations of the principal. I didn’t know what to expect…and how I was to relate. At the beginning, all I saw the principal do was act as a welcomer. Here’s the school. Good luck! I didn’t know what his role would be with me, his expectations for me, and how I could expect him to react. I was left on my own to develop a style of teaching and classroom management. I hoped that it was one that he approved of.”

  • “I would like affirmation from my principal that I am doing things OK. If not, I would like to know about it so I can address and correct the situation.”

  • “I would like to meet monthly with my principal to discuss things like ‘hidden agendas,’ culture and traditions of the school, expectations, regular events, and what to expect, as well as [have] an opportunity to gripe a bit.”

  • “I like the high visibility of my principal. He pops into my room often. I like that because if he sees a problem, he can let me know right away. I like having feedback available like that. One thing that I wish he would have done is introduce me to the staff so that I knew who everyone was and what they did. I would have liked a tour of the building, introductions to the people, and then an explanation of procedures for the main school events before they happen. Walk me through the hurdles, tell me what to expect at conferences and open houses, meet with the first-year teachers throughout the year to see how we’re doing and tell us about events before they happen.”

  • “Pre-warning us about parents who are known to have agendas and who can be difficult to deal with would be good. That way, we can anticipate and have strategies in place to prevent problems.”

  • “The principal should express the expectations that he has for students in the school. I needed to know about the parameters of the grading system. I needed to know expectations for lesson plans.”

  • “Knowing the discipline policies and procedures before school begins is essential. Getting acquainted with the secretaries and knowing their responsibilities are also important. I was always asking them who does what and what the procedure is.”

  • “The only time I see my principal is from afar…walking in the hall, but never stopping by to see how I am doing.”

  • “It is critical that the first-year teachers…not be left in isolation and expected to be successful.”

  • “No one told me that other beginners had these problems. I was planning to quit because I thought that I was a bad teacher.”
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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, effective principal, educational leaders, Role of Principal in School, new principal, Educational Leadership Master'snew teacher, first-year teacher, Programs

Connecting with Parents: 5 Tips for Principals

Posted on Wed, Nov 06, 2013 @ 11:11 AM

new principalWhen was the last time you heard someone say, “And where were the parents?” or “What’s going on with parents these days?” You may have even said this yourself a few times.

We may not always understand parents, but we never doubt that the majority of them want what’s best for their child. And even when parents are difficult, we know how important it is to maintain positive relationships with them.

Since challenging parents are never going to completely go away, we’d like to share a few tips—courtesy of educational leadership experts Todd Whitaker and Douglas J. Fiore—to help you better navigate these relationships.

Connecting with Parents: 5 Tips for Principals

Call parents—all of them
You’ve already hosted back-to-school night, but extending a personal invitation to any major school event is a great way to connect with parents.

Round up the student council, ask for teacher volunteers and host an evening in which the group attempts to call every family and personally invite them to back-to-school night. If you’re thinking that this sounds like a lot of work, you’re right—but the payoff is well worth it.

Dare to give parents your number
At an event where you have a large audience of parents, encourage them to call you in both the office and at home if they need to. We agree, giving out your home phone number sounds a little unorthodox, perhaps even foolish, but here’s Whitaker and Fiore’s rationale:

This approach makes everyone in that auditorium feel that someone cares about them and their child. Years later parents would tell me that they always remembered that. The other benefit was that teachers began doing the same thing.

Irrational parents will always find a way to get your home phone number and will call you regardless. It may come as a surprise, but Whitaker and Fiore explain that they are consistently approached by parents who say, “I was going to call you at home. I know you said we could, but I figured you get so many calls that I decided that I did not want to ever bother you at night.”

Touching base
Personal phone calls go a long way. Try randomly calling one or two families every week—or touch base with a parent who has expressed concern over a situation in the school a week or two later to ask how things are going.

Reaching out to the community
Education and educators take a consistent beating from the media. It’s discouraging, but one way you can help change this is by contacting local television, public radio and blogs with pieces of good news about your school. If they ignore you, be vigilant and see if you can find contacts through parents.

Use technology to connect more efficiently
Most schools have a monthly edition of the school newsletter. These usually include a column in which the principal shares his/her musings, updates and reminders. This is nice, but it lacks a personal touch for a variety of reasons:

  • It’s impersonal (parents can’t hear you)
  • It isn’t always timely (most newsletters come once a month)
  • Newsletters often get mixed up in parents’ random junk mail
  • Parents can’t respond to newsletters unless they call you
  • Parents often cannot access this information on a mobile device

As an alternative to the newsletter, try creating two or three minute podcasts, audio recordings that parents receive every Friday in their email box. These podcasts can be conversational: In addition to the usual updates and reminders you might find in a newsletter, feature short interviews with student athletes, coaches, thespian students and teachers. Once you’re done, simply embed the recording onto your Facebook page, website or school blog and email a link to the parents who have requested to receive notifications.

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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, effective principal, educational leaders, Parent Engagement, Role of Principal in School, new principal, parent partnerships

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