The start of a new school year is upon us! For teachers and administrators alike, this is a time of excitement. Vacations have come to an end and we’re beginning to think about the new year ahead, mentally planning out what the 2018-2019 school year will bring.
Part of wrapping your brain around a new school year includes determining which policies and procedures to implement. As educators, we want to grow and learn and refine our practice, which we do through trying new things. One way to accomplish that is to test out new policies and procedures. It’s important to consider them upfront so your school year will start off on the right foot.Don’t dive into a new initiative before thinking it through unless you want to spend time revising and scrapping procedures before Thanksgiving. Consider the following five policies and procedures to begin your best school year yet!
1. Forge Relationships
No person in education is an island. Create your admin tribe. They’re there for you when you’re in need of advice from someone who’s been there done that, or when you need to brag a little to someone who’ll understand.
Certainly, being the head of a school is isolating. It’s a lot of pressure to be in charge. Get out from behind your desk and your mountain of work and forge relationships with the other teacher leaders in your district. If that’s not an option, seek out digital options to connect with like-minded individuals. There are Facebook groups dedicated to school principal interests, and Twitter is full of groups and Ed chats that appeal to administrators.
In a similar vein, no school leader can tackle everything in a school. There’s far too much for one person to accomplish, and besides, giving others a say is healthy for morale. To do this, select a few things on your to-do list that another can accomplish, whether that’s a committee or an individual. Offer the task to your staff as a leadership opportunity. Or approach staff members you think might be a good fit for the project and ask them to volunteer their efforts.
To ensure success,the key to delegating is to trust the committee or group you’ve put in charge. Re-doing their work won’t save you any time or effort, and it will not encourage your staff to volunteer in the future. The task may not have been completed exactly how you wanted it, but you can’t do everything!
3. Automate Your Substitute Management Plan
“I love taking 11:00 PM phone calls from sick staff”—says no administrator ever. Scheduling substitutes is an important part of any school leader’s day. After all, it’s imperative that your students have the most highly qualified educator in their classroom at all times. In cases of illness or other emergency, substitute teachers are necessary. Scheduling subs doesn’t have to be a daunting task with the help of Subzz substitute management software. Subzz fills absences faster, increases sub fill rates, and often eliminates the need to pick up the phone.
As a result, there is no more worrying about class coverage. No more taking phone calls from ill staff members at all hours of the day and night. Rest easy knowing your students and their classes are covered.
4. Meet Smarter
Meetings are essential to school culture. How else can school leaders effectively disseminate important information and teachers have opportunities to collaborate? However, left unchecked, meetings become gripe sessions that drag on too long and become unproductive. Creating a policy for meetings and procedures for how they’re run combats this. Consider how often you’ll need to meet with your staff. Be mindful of their time. If the information can be provided in an email—do so. But if the information is important and is likely to solicit questions from staff members, definitely hold a meeting. Be consistent when it comes to meeting times. Hold meetings on the same day of the week, time, and for a typical length so teachers and staff can plan accordingly.
Additionally, procedures for meetings should consist of setting norms, providing an agenda, and having a snack—even if it’s bring-your-own. Including time for staff input helps them feel that their time is valued.
Collaboration is expected of teachers, but for administrators, and their ever-increasing list of duties, a similar expectation does not exist. Somewhere between the classroom and the principal’s office, there’s a shift that says collaboration isn’t necessary. Don’t go it alone in education. Collaborate with other school leaders to brainstorm, clarify, and revise new ideas and initiatives. Get inspired by what your colleagues are doing at their schools. Inspire others, too!
Likewise, collaboration can save you time and invigorate your practice. Tap into your admin tribe or login to social media to share resources and bring a fresh new perspective to leadership. Don’t rewrite the manual without seeing what’s out there first! Save yourself time, energy, and effort by collaborating.
In the end, as you begin to step out of summer and into school, consider implementing these five procedures. You’ll be glad you did. Happy new school year, educational leaders!