6 Things All Intentional School Leaders Do Right
Just like good teaching, good school leadership is an intentional practice built on study, revision, and honesty.
There are very few administrators who were born excellent. Rather, the best school leaders work on their craft intentionally over the course of their careers—and haven’t stopped. Here’s how they’ve bettered that practice and how they stay sharp even after they reach their career goals.
1. They have high standards for everyone
To paraphrase Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” With this in mind, school leaders must be models of holding everyone to high standards by expecting the best from every student, teacher, and staff member. If leaders model that mindset, it will trickle down, which may even result in students beginning to hold each other accountable. This doesn’t mean being harsh, but simply believing that everyone is capable of great things—because they are.
2. They are always soliciting opinions
The climate within a school can change as quickly as the climate outside of it. That’s why it’s important for school leaders to consistently reach out to every member of staff and faculty—even just to find out how things are going—rather than simply relying on an “open-door policy.”
With teacher and staff members numbering into the hundreds at the district level, this can be difficult. Although technology such as online surveys and other tools facilitate frequent communication, nothing beats standing next to a teacher and having a face-to-face conversation. After all, you can learn a lot from the smallest of interactions, even if you're just chatting about the weather.
If the topic of conversation is more serious, however, the intentional school leader isn’t afraid to hear the truth—especially from subordinates. In the business world, the strongest members of the C-suite view constructive criticism as an opportunity for growth rather than an attack on their authority, and school administrators should be no different.
3. They don’t know what their office looks like
Ask any successful administrator how much time they spend in their office, and they'll likely tell you they can almost never be found there. In fact, the "Teach on your feet, not in your seat" mantra is as true in administration as it is in the classroom. Just as we want students engaged with their learning and teachers engaged with their classes, administrators need to be engaged with their school. Moreover, seeing school leaders out and about gives other members of the school community a positive pattern of behavior to model.
4. They serve as instructional models
Speaking of being out and about, there is no excuse for school leaders not to spend a lot of time in the classroom, to the extent that they should be able to jump in and teach a lesson if needed. One effective administrative practice is rotation, which involves team-teaching every class alongside the regular teacher at least once over the course of the school year. This way, the administrator becomes an instructional model who is able to model best practices at any time.
5. They cultivate other leaders within the school
No matter the school, there are not enough administrators for the work that needs to be done—but despite this widespread shortage, some school leaders fear loss of authority to such an extent that they avoid delegating to anyone else.
Not only does giving subordinates direct authority wherever appropriate split the work for everyone, it also multiplies the number of eyes and ears on the case. Of course, not all tasks can be delegated, but those that can have the potential to really make a difference in teacher engagement.
6. They engage the whole community
Successful school leaders view their school as a centerpiece of the community that surrounds it and want it to be a place where everyone feels safe, welcome, and part of the action. With this in mind, ensuring student success should go beyond parent engagement, with everyone from local businesspeople to church and civic leaders being approached to get involved. If this is done in the right way, community members will quickly see how valuable their input can be for the next generation.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
What does good leadership look like to you? What does leadership look like in your school or district? Connect with Lexia on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and let us know your thoughts and experiences on this topic!
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