Are you a school administrator new to the job? If yes, then we want to help you out. Over at Edutopia, grade school administrator Ross Cooper has compiled a list of what he believes are the five most important tips for new schools administrators to know. You can read Cooper's full post here, but we've included an excerpt below as well.
2. Getting into classrooms
Just as teachers should never forget what it's like to be a student, administrators should never forget what it's like to be a teacher. Spend a great deal of time in classrooms, being as non-evaluative as you can. Teachers can easily feel threatened when an administrator sits behind a computer (supposedly taking notes that pick apart each and every aspect of a lesson), so travel around with as little equipment as possible. Personally, I like to record the date whenever I spend more than ten minutes in a classroom, which helps in ensuring that my time is distributed evenly among all the teachers. Also, if a teacher asks what you are doing, be transparent. For instance:
- I'm looking for examples of exemplary instruction so that we can take advantage of our expertise during teacher-led professional development.
- How can I help in moving us forward if I don’t see first-hand what our strengths and needs are?
3. Understanding others
Do less talking and more listening, but don't stop there. When conversing with others, make a conscious effort to avoid waiting to talk and trying to prove yourself. I believe that most teachers are more concerned with the new administrator validating their work, as opposed to wanting to be awed by that administrator's expertise. So take the time to sincerely understand where teachers are coming from. For example, if the majority of teachers possess a negative attitude toward something, don't ignore it. Perception is reality, and if most teachers feel a certain way, act (or react) appropriately, instead of telling them "Too bad" or convincing yourself that "they deserve what's happening to them." Also, when appropriate, do what you can to make teachers' ideas a reality. These actions can be empowering as they send the message that thoughts and opinions can make a difference.
4. Flattening the hierarchy
Approach your job with the notion that everyone has something to contribute, because a valuable idea can come from absolutely anyone. Don't take it personally if anyone challenges you on some level. In other words, make sure to separate ideas and opinions from the individuals who are delivering them. Leverage your new title to empower others to speak up and have a voice. One person's idea is no better than another's simply because he or she has a "higher-up" job title, and certain responsibilities should not belong entirely to specific workers just because they happen to be in a department that has traditionally taken care of such tasks. Ultimately, what matters is working collaboratively to do what's best for the children, not trying to market yourself as the owner of all things great in your school or district. As a fourth-grade teacher, I once had the pleasure of working with a phenomenal assistant superintendent. Whenever we met, a stranger could walk into the room and, based on our interaction, wouldn't know who was the teacher and who was the administrator. That is special!