School is in session across the country and that means communities are coming together for the 2019-2020 academic year. Your principals, teachers and staff have already welcomed students back into the classroom. Students are reconnecting with one another and anticipating many new and exciting lessons and experiences. As superintendent, your presence is critical for establishing and maintaining the enthusiasm and momentum for the months to come.
Through our close relationships with the superintendents from the districts we support – over 500 from coast to coast – we’ve gained insight into the everyday trials and triumphs that back-to-school season can bring. Here are three tips from our experts:
Visit your schools early and often
Demonstrate that you are engaged and invested in the success of your entire district by establishing a schedule of regular visits to each school. Check with your principals to find out which days and times might be best. Your involvement is important to building relationships with them as well as their leadership teams. Offer guidance, hands-on assistance and inquire how else you might be of service. Embodying this type of support provides an example to your principals for how they might want to counsel their teachers. It also provides you with the insight and context you need to ensure your leadership has an impact.
Make time each week to debrief with your principals
Sit down with your principals and talk to them about what is happening at their respective schools. Learn about their challenges big and small, and listen to their ideas about what they think might help. Once you start working together to address an issue, gather feedback on progress. Offer assistance to shift direction, if necessary. Celebrate successes by sharing them with your other principals as well. This establishes a positive, solution-oriented culture and helps to retain talent.
Attend faculty meetings and engage with teachers
Create an awareness that you are here to help by interacting with your principals and teachers at their regular meetings. Faculty members are the frontline to students and representatives of your district. They have close ties to another stakeholder group – parents. As a leader, position yourself as a support for them and express your acknowledgement of the important role they play in your school community.
Superintendents must balance serving as the foundation for the school community and leading the way in supporting a nimble and responsive environment that fosters success for everyone – principals, teachers, staff and students. The more involved you are, the more it shows your investment in positive outcomes and a great new school year.