6 School Leadership Questions Answered
Making decisions at a district or school leadership level raises many questions. It is not easy. It may be near impossible to do in isolation. Actually, many times more problems can occur with a do-it-alone policy. While directing from the top, and exclusively delegating to others can make sense, the possibility of losing track of what is happening throughout a district can lead to the road to disaster. School district leaders are responsible for all. Here are 6 questions with some possible answers:
1. What will make your job easier to do?
A school leadership job can most likely never be considered easy, but working to improve communications can make it seem better—and make more possible—for the effort. While it may seem sometimes easier to confine your ideas to a small, few at the top of the district hierarchy, it may not be best for getting a true larger picture. To expand your view, others need to be invited in.
2. What will save you time in doing your job?
Again, the more you keep to your to do list, without bringing others in to help, the more time you could spend doing things that others could do just a well. Sometimes others might have the right expertise to do it better, too. Discovering who those individual staff members might be can not only save time, but could add to knowledge, as well as give those with those skills a feeling of being useful above and beyond what they thought their district roles were. Most will step up to be helpful. While saving time to do more may be the initial goal, you’ll find out that more can be done, and doing more is always better for a district—and leader, too.
3. What is the best way to get the feedback you need?
Getting more time will allow for getting more useful feedback and data, too. Usually district feedback is attained through surveys, written and completed, at staff meetings, and sometimes online. But there is no better way to find out what’s really happening and on the minds of staff throughout a district than face-to-face meetings with leadership. Meeting with leadership in a positive way can snowball into more positive thoughts and ideas, if the meetings are not used as grump sessions, but rather positive meetings of district minds. Staff members knowing they are valuable for what they think, have a greater vested interest beyond their every day regular tasks. Asking others, at many varied levels, what they think, and what they would do, is a form of empowerment, and really a sign of good leadership, and most of all trust.
4. How can you best gather and organize data efficiently?
With more and more reliance on gathering the best data possible for district decision making there is a need to discover what data is essential, necessary, and makes an education difference. Remembering that collecting information can include data, it all is probably not all equally as valuable as quality, and meaningful data. It’s nice to have a lot of information, but narrowing down what makes a decision the right one is more than a story—it’s the facts and the proof.
5. What is the best way to positively excite and empower staff?
The best way to excite and empower staff is to tell them that they already have the power. It’s sort of a Dorothy going from Oz back to Kansas approach: you had the power all along. When a leader says that to staff, it empowers them to do more, because it comes right from the top. It leads to a very positive school community, too. To say do what needs to be done in order to teach students better, and have students learn and achieve more takes moments. The benefits can be measurable and without end. You may have to say it a few times, until the shock wears off. Staff will then run with their ideas.
6. What will it take to fund your plans and make them reality?
It is more difficult to creatively fund great ideas. Some still manage to do it. When budgets are voted upon each year, and district leaders need to defend any changes or additions, the newest, greatest, and latest innovations to education often get cut. There are ways to get there, though. School leaders need to go beyond a quarterly newsletter in the mail. There needs to be an ongoing campaign using every media and social media possibility to open the windows for a district view. What’s happening in classrooms, schools, and in the district needs to be news, highlighted and shared daily—if possible. It should be done in the most compelling story telling way possible, too.
Some leaders have a part time PR person, or a staff member helping to share the district positively, and often to all. This is a community level campaign. Many, who will vote an education budget down, don’t have children in school. It pays to bring them into the school community each day. The community will not come on there own, but once hooked they will want to know more. This is as important to district success as most anything else—it feeds the positive. Everyone should be a part of a school district community. The community educates its children, and it’s up to school leaders to educate the community.