Leadership Development: Start with the mission and a vision for your organization
Excellent schools need excellent leaders whose principles and practices align with the school’s educational mission and vision. They are inspired and motivated by the vision of excellence and possess the desire and skills necessary for making it a reality.
Leadership acumen: Time for annual discernment
School calendars have a timeline for administrator evaluation and contract renewal as part of the human resources process; what may be missing is an intentional period of time for genuine discernment. During this time, administrators reflect on their practice in light of the mission and vision of their school and the larger organization. Am I meeting the needs of my school? Do I remain motivated by the mission of my school and the organization? Am I effective at designing and carrying out the necessary tasks, as well as, motivating teachers, staff, parents, and students toward the vision of excellence? Do I remain inspired by this work in education? Do I still feel called to serve in this role?
Discernment is also critical for aspiring leaders; similar to administrators, these potential leaders reflect on their practice, likely as a teacher or grade level leader or department chair, and ask themselves comparable questions as those preceding. Am I meeting the needs of my students? Do I remain motivated by the mission of and vision for excellence at my school? Am I effective at designing and carrying out the necessary tasks, as well as collaborating with colleagues, parents, and students toward the vision of excellence? Do I remain inspired by this work in education? Do I still feel called to serve in this role or am I called to serve in a different capacity? Do I feel called to leadership?
Leadership Formation: Aligned to the mission and vision
Clarity of mission and vision is critical to the design and delivery of leadership formation programs. Once hired, new administrators in an organization engage in ongoing professional development that includes information sharing, collective capacity building, and collaborative problem solving. Information sharing is about the proverbial nuts and bolts of the job; these are critical policies and procedures that each administrator must have knowledge of and a developing skill set. Collective capacity building is professional development that new administrators need to carry out the mission of the organization; such sessions are designed with the tenets of the vision of excellence as the drivers of the content. For example, if the vision of excellence involves raising the bar and closing the gap for all students, then developing knowledge and skills in accessing and analyzing data and using data to drive cycles of continuous improvement is critical administrator professional development. Collaborative problem solving honors the education, experience, and professional gifts and talents that administrators bring to the table and engages session facilitators and administrators in problem solving activities. Given the current state schools are in against the vision for excellence, in these sessions administrators get to the root cause of a problem and develop a series of tasks to resolve the problem; new and experienced administrators collaborate with one another to develop and implement solutions, and assess its effectiveness on an ongoing basis.
Critical first days and ongoing development
The first days on the job as a new administrator should be spent conducting informal audits of their school against the mission and vision of excellence. Data to be collected and analyzed includes but is not limited to: budget and spending, attendance rates, matriculation and graduation rates, school schedules and class minutes, subject-specific test scores school-wide and grade level, review of texts and other classroom resources, technology infrastructure, hardware and software, and more; perhaps most important are one-on-one meetings with teachers and staff and small group meetings with parents and students and other key community stakeholders. These audits and conversations are a critical, valuable starting point for assessing where the school is at against where you, as the new leader, want the school to be. The results of these audits and conversations are the stimuli for developing a well-informed and intentional game plan for the first year of administration and is an impetus for the collaborative problem solving work that is part of the leadership formation sessions as well as the driver for agendas for faculty meetings and parent meetings.
Aligned with the mission and vision of your school and larger organization, leadership development including reflection, information sharing, collective capacity building, and collaborative problem solving become the norms of the school and district.