The 11 Educational Leadership Secrets You’ve Never Heard About
As a leader in education, you know you have an important job, but at times it can be a very demanding and difficult job. Continue reading about our 11 Educational Leadership Secrets to help ease the burden of your multi-faceted position.
- Forever Learning- As a member of the educational field, and more specifically, someone whose students, teachers, and colleagues look to for advice, you should model that you are always trying to improve. Go out and complete a continuing education course based on current research, bring it back to your team, and let the growth of your teachers and students flourish.
- Positive School Culture- With everything that is happening in the world, it is important to portray and embody positivity in your educational leadership role. Professors at Northwestern University support the idea of an “ecosystem of experiences.” There is a reason that “school culture” has become a hot topic, and it is because if a positive environment is built in our schools, school leaders, teachers, students, parents, and even the community will be able to reap the benefits of the many positive experiences that happen in school.
- Attainable Expectations- We have all had the educational leader who says, “this is what we are doing” but provides no guidance. This leads to confusion and frustration among everyone in the school. Instead, set clear goals with soft and hard deadlines for both individuals and groups within your school. Thomas Hoerr, the author of Principal Connections/Four Tips on Leading Adults, says clear expectations are a must because it allows everyone to be on the same page. Being a united team will allow you and your staff to complete goals in a more timely and efficient manner.
- Put Your Foot Down- To go along with #3, there are always going to be people who don’t agree on any given policy or reform . In the education world, this tends to be because many teachers and staff are very passionate about what they think education should look like. If you feel strongly about a new grading policy or style of pedagogy, implement it! Put a clear plan into place, assign your staff roles, and have proper feedback mechanisms put in place. Thomas Hoerr put it best, “Particularly on important issues, if everyone is happy, chances are we aren’t doing our job.”
- Listen to Teachers… and Students!- Now, this may seem like a direct opposition to #4, but indeed it is not. Teachers need guidance, but also want the chance to teach you, their principal! You can see this in the direct quotes from teachers in this “Dear School Leaders” article. When you actively listen to teachers and their positive ideas for school improvement, you might be surprised by what you learn! So approach your teachers with the idea that you want to hear positive discussions of ways to improve your school or community, and to leave the negative Nancy attitudes at the front doors.
- Feedback, Feedback, Feedback- Feedback is arguably one of the most crucial components of education as a whole. Students need both positive feedback and critical criticism to truly complete the learning process, and the same is true for everyone in an educational environment. Be sure to provide feedback to your teachers on what they can improve upon, but also what they are doing well! Encourage your staff members to visit the classrooms of those teachers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Never underestimate the power of verbal or written encouragement to a teacher, most of the time, it is all they need to keep growing as an educator!
- Open Door Policy- Just as you expect your staff to be open to your opinions about their work, you too need to be open to constructive criticism. In 2014, the website Cult of Pedagogy ran a survey of teachers where one of their findings was that “70 percent [of teachers] said they would not feel comfortable going to their principals with a concern about something the administrator had done.” This is an issue, because communication is a two-way street. All educational leaders can probably agree, that if they have done something wrong, they would want to know and correct the issue. This problem can easily be solved by using a survey where teachers can provide honest feedback, without fear of repercussions. You can find example feedback questions and prompts on the “Principals: Are you brave enough to ask for staff feedback” article on the Cult of Pedagogy website.
- Communication is Key- One could argue that #7 could be avoidable with one simple step: clear and consistent communication. In today’s technological world, there is no excuse for lack of communication. A simple solution could be sending out weekly emails listing out the important events within the school and community. Or create a “Teacher of the Week” awards program so that teachers, administrators, and students can nominate someone who is creating a positive impact on your school. Most importantly of all, if there is a problem, be sure to communicate with the person(s) involved and provide clear expectations of how you want the problem solved.
- It’s Always For the Students- Remember why you got into this field? Most likely, it was for those students who need you most. Even though you are no longer a teacher who sees the same students every day, you can still get to know each kid on a personal level. When they know that all of the adults in their school are there to support them, their learning experience will be that much more meaningful.
- Check-In On Yourself- There is a lot to do. You have checklists galore, you want your staff to try this new platform, you need to send out all of those positive emails and notes, and overall you are swamped. Make sure you take a step back and allow yourself to reflect on how you are doing professionally. Are you setting and making progress towards the goals you set? Are you taking the time to do what you think is most important while being an educational leader? If not, do it! You got into this position for a reason, make sure you are being true to your inner educator!
- It’s Okay, You Aren’t a SuperHero- Along with #10, guess what, you can’t do it all! And that is okay! You wear many hats in one day, and you are doing your best. On the days where all you can think about is criticism and negativity do as Tom Vander Ark says, “Take care of your family” and yourself because if you are burnt out, it will show. When you put your needs first, it will allow you to better serve all of those that matter most.
Here is to hoping you read about a tip or trick that you can take back to your school to make your year as an educational leader run a little smoother, while also benefiting everyone around you!