Each school year inevitably gets very busy and this causes educators to lose track of their purpose and impacts their effectiveness. April and May might be the busiest months for school leaders. This includes finishing standardized testing, teacher appraisals, budgeting, hiring staff and completing end of year events. As you can see, there is much on a leader’s shoulders and time is in short supply. The tasks listed above did not even include the typical but very important school day happenings such as building relationships and culture, supporting staff and encouraging students in their efforts as they develop into learners in a rapidly changing world. This is the real work and one that leaders cannot lose sight of. With everything happening, the question becomes “how do we make it through the busiest times” as both internal and external forces are putting too many demands upon an already busy schedule. This blog post focuses on how leaders can be both efficient with time and effective in leading their school leaders.
This starts with a“focus on the things that you can control”. As a leader, we must prioritize our work and know what must be done now and what can wait (and what may not get done and that is ok). This prioritization allows leaders to focus on things they can control and truly focus on things that can make a difference in school…..supporting its people.
When we think of “focusing on things we can control” that specifically includes using the following strategies:
- Importance of your daily routine.
Leaders must take care of themselves in order that they are at their best for staff and students. They must also be efficient with their time and effective in how they use their time.
- Leaders must first recognize the importance of self care and how that allows them to be their best to care for others. How leaders start their mornings allows them to further learn through reading, listening to podcasts or exercising. This allows them to clear their mind and get ready for the day. Each person is different but they must have a consistent way to clear their mind and stay sharp in their focus on their work prior to arriving at work each day.
- How leaders organize their time is very important too. What can be delegated to trusted staff, what timely tasks need to be tackled first and then prioritize what will give you the greatest return of your time are important strategies to consider. The more leaders can find ways to build up staff so they feel valued which in turn allows them to be their best for students is also most important. Leaders must recognize what work must happen when everyone is at school and what can be done after school. Leaders must prioritize time by determining tasks into the following categories:
- Important and Urgent
- Important but not Urgent
- Not Important but Urgent
- Not Important and not Urgent
- Lead with your feet by being visible.
It is very easy to get caught up in your office by responding to phone calls and emails. Some of this is needed, especially on matters that are time sensitive or need privacy to visit with someone. However, leaders can help by being proactive by being visible in the building as this allows conversations to happen with staff, eliminate potential problems and you can model the calm, positive mindset that staff and students need to see. This is showing your school community that you put others first and your focus is on people – not email.
- This is most effective when leaders are authentic and find ways to make the feedback to staff that is timely, specific, and public. It is more important to “catch your staff” doing great things than it is to catch them making little mistakes on managerial tasks that don’t impact people or the structures that exist within the school.
- The best way to connect with others is by listening. In order to listen you must be present in the classrooms and hallways so the dialogue can happen. You can connect with others by listening, asking questions and seeing what can be applied to your role to help lead your school.
- Keep a strong and healthy school culture.
Leading a school is a great responsibility but also brings great joy. However, we must remember it is not our school – we are there to help empower others to help make it “our school.” This can be achieved by:
- Empower others to help make a difference and help develop solutions to problems.
- Celebrate the successes of our work and embrace our failures.
- Trust the people you work with – you hired them for a good reason and they are leaders too.
- Share your appreciation for the efforts of your staff
- An authentic message, email or handwritten card mailed to a staff member can help lift their spirits.
- Work with your students to find ways to help thank your staff for their efforts.
- Leaders set the tone of their building. When you lead with gratitude then others will follow. A simple “thank you” goes a long way to helping others feel valued.
- Communication must be adapted to meet the needs of others.
This means the info you share with students, staff and families can be adapted to each group to meet their needs. Everyone needs proactive communication but also clear and consistent messaging. Leaders must be purposeful with their communication, and timely in their delivery. If people are busy but yet we want them to read our communication, then consider making your communication:
- Connect back to the work of the school
- Provide platforms for feedback
Educators must remember that creating positive change must be intentional efforts incorporated in ways that meet the needs of the people at the specific points in the school year. This is most essential when things are busy and that is when leadership is needed the most for students and staff. The leadership provides the groundwork for others to provide greater focus to their work moving forward and keeps everyone “rowing the boat in the same direction”. Leaders must continually identify how to see the current reality and prioritize how to be efficient but yet effective. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. I encourage you to reflect and better understand “how to make it through the busiest of times” as a leader by considering the 4 strategies mentioned above. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org