Archive for Team Building
After two years of sitting in the school administrator’s chair, I still find myself far from reaching my goal of School Administration Mastery. I have learned so much this year, and still I feel that I am not where I thought I’d be on this journey I’ve started.
I am grateful, however, for the lessons I have learned. I feel more comfortable in my position, and I know that as I continue to use every moment as a learning experience, I’ll be better prepared for when the powers that be see fit to place me in a position with even more responsibility.
I’ve worked under many principals in my career in education, and some have been more effective than others. All have wanted to have an impact on the school. All have wanted to move the school forward. All have wanted to see improvement in one area or another. Not all, however, have been successful in accomplishing this. Why is that?
I’ve learned that one of the biggest obstacles to a principal’s impact on a school is staff buy-in.
Every principal that I’ve known has a vision for the school. He / She has a particular goal or goals that he/she wants to reach as the leader of the school.
The tough part is getting the staff to jump on board and run with his/her vision.
So how do effective principals get their staff to buy into their personal vision?
Successful school administrators probably already know the answer, but I wanted to share what I’ve learned for other future principals like myself.
How Effective Principals Get Staff to Buy In to Their Vision:
Create the team.
This can be your department heads or your team leaders or a group of teachers who are seen as the leaders of the school. They give the team a name like, The VISION Team. It sounds a bit hokey, but it gives them a unique identity, instead of The Bunch of Teachers Trying to Improve the School Team.
Once the team is assembled, the principal will share his/her vision for the school and what he/she would like to see happen. He / She focuses on one or two specific goals that are measurable and attainable. Setting a goal of 100% of the student body testing proficient on the upcoming state test is not a reasonable goal. Lowering the number of D’s and F’s of the students at one grade level is not only reasonable, but measurable.
Let the team brainstorm.
The principal will allow the team to brainstorm. Someone (even the principal) will write down the ideas on a chart paper or on the whiteboard.
This is the tough part for the administrator. He / She already has ideas in his/her head, and wants to share them. An effective principal will have to let the teachers do the idea sharing. The principal can still guide the session with questions and comments. After all, he/she has done the research. He / She sees roadblocks and obstacles that they don’t see, because of his/her position and experience. Still, the plan has to come from the team. Teachers can be very creative. They will most likely come up with a strategy that will work better than the one in the principal’s head.
Decide on a plan of action.
When the brainstorming session is over, there should be a direction that can be taken to reach the goal. It’s written down, circled and underlined. It’s given a name. The “No More D’s and F’s Plan.” Please come up with something more catchy.
Determine a timeline.
When will this plan take effect? When will we gather data to measure its success? When do we meet again?
Who does what and by when? Are there documents to create? Data to collect? Reports to build? The principal should try to get each member of the team a job to do. The principal makes sure that the team has the supplies and resources necessary to do their job. Most importantly, the team has to come up with the names of the people who will be sharing your strategies to the entire staff. This cannot be the principal.
Allow the team to deliver the details.
Now it’s time to spread the vision to the rest of the staff. In the next all-staff meeting, the principal will schedule in some time to talk about what the team has come up with. The principal will open the conversation by sharing the vision. Then it is handed over to the predetermined group of teachers who will give the details of the plan. This is where the buy-in happens. Since it’s a plan developed by their colleagues, the chances of getting more of the staff to support it are greater.
Meet for a follow up.
The team meets again after a reasonable amount of time to share data and see how effective the strategy has been. Determine next steps and make modifications to the plan if necessary.
Give credit where credit is due.
The team is given credit for any successes that come because of the new strategies put in place. Effective principals look to build their staff up instead of looking to make a name for themselves.
In my experience, I’ve learned that an effective principal will be willing to place their vision in the hands of others to accomplish. Ineffective principals will try and convince the staff that his/her vision and strategies are exactly what needs to be done.
I don’t know if I’ll ever find myself sitting in the principal’s chair, leading a school and promoting my vision to my staff, but I do know that I won’t be able to do it alone. No matter how motivating and inspirational my speech might be to the staff, I won’t be able to reach that goal without getting the staff to buy into it.
I hope this was helpful.
What do you think? Have you seen this in action? Please leave a comment or send me a tweet.
Until next time,
Here’s to your journey toward School Administration Mastery!
Welcome again to SchoolAdministrationMastery.com.
Well, it’s the beginning of my second year in school administration. After 23 years in the classroom and one year of administration under my belt, I feel a little more confident in my new role. Last year was a total mind shift for me. It was also a year of learning and adapting. I’m grateful to the many school administrators who have shared their experience and expertise online. I have subscribed to many of their RSS feeds, and I have learned so much about what it takes to be successful in this position. I’m always checking my Feedly iPhone App to see what new posts I can read.
As part of the beginning of a new school year, my principal held a meeting for all the teacher leaders on campus. That is, she invited the team leaders and department leaders, along with the admin team.
Her goal was to begin the year with some policies in place that would help make the year run more smoothly.
At the end of last year, our former principal (We have a new principal this year.) conducted a survey of the teachers, asking them for feedback on how the year went. The results of that feedback identified a few areas where the teachers felt there could be some improvement.
Our current principal used this first meeting of the year to try and come up with strategic policies that would help improve those areas that were identified in the feedback results. We expected the meeting to be a bit contentious, since we were dealing with staff complaints, but I was pleasantly surprised.
It was a great meeting. The teachers proposed ideas; the administration shared their point of view, and together we came up with a definite direction as to what we need to do to change those weaknesses into strengths.
The principal used her position to facilitate the discussion, organize the comments on large posters on the wall, and keep us from deviating from our focus. I was very impressed with the way the meeting was conducted. I learned a lot.
A day before school is to begin, we will have a full staff meeting to go over the direction our school will take for this new school year. This will be the meeting where the policies we developed in the leadership meeting will be share with the staff. The question was, “Who is going to share our new policies with everybody?”
I assumed that the responsibility to tell the staff what we as a school are going to do would fall on the administration.
I was wrong.
Once we had come to a consensus as to what new policies would be adopted by the school, the principal then asked, “Which of you teacher leaders will be the one to share this with the staff?”
I was surprised by the willingness of the teachers to be the one to take on that responsibility. Teachers quickly volunteered, and I was a bit relieved.
Although most seasoned school administrators probably already know this, I learned that when sharing a new policy or direction for the school, having a fellow teacher share this information will have a greater effect than if coming from administration.
Unfortunately, there is always going to be an us-versus-them mentality between the teachers and administration. Some schools have it worse than others, but whatever the case, having a fellow teacher demonstrate his/her personal buy-in to this policy will go along way to convincing other teachers to buy-in as well.
It also demonstrates that an administrator values the leadership abilities of the teacher. To give away that “time behind the podium” shows that we are a team working together for the benifit of all.
I know some school administrators love to be the center of attention in staff meetings, but I believe it is a wise school administrator who will allow the other leaders on campus to share the spotlight. You can be the best motivational speaker in the world, but if you are still considered one of them, you’re not going to be as effective as a teacher speaking as one of us. I hope that made sense.
This is one strategy that I will take with me as I continue my journey toward School Administration Mastery.
Hope this was helpful.
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Until next time,