A common difficulty when transitioning into administration is the challenge of forming new relationships with all of your colleagues at school. When you were a teacher, you had shared experiences with other teachers about your classroom experiences, frequent discussions about the mutual duties and difficulties that accompany teaching, and the challenges of dealing with the administration. However, now that you are in administration you likely
- visit classrooms of close colleagues that you never visited much before
- respond to complaints from parents, students, and other teachers about certain teachers
- react to missed deadlines on projects and assignments you have given teachers…
- are privy to more administrative information than you previously were which will change everything.
Why? You begin to notice and see things, you never saw before. It’s the flip side of the coin, it’s a parallel universe. And with these insights new thoughts, connections, and understandings begin to form. You become more aware that your words are seemingly being spoken over the microphone even though you aren’t holding a mic. You are put in the position of explaining and clarifying to teachers the rationale for new changes in the school that your supervisor has left for you to manage. You have to follow-up with individual teachers who have missed deadlines or mistakes that need to be corrected without gossiping to other teachers, while the individual teacher on the other hand can tell his/her colleagues their own version of the story which can begin to sow dissension amongst the staff. It’s tough, but it’s only the beginning.
In order to grow into your new responsibilities, try to determine and focus in on your goal(s)
- serving more students
- improving the school
- doing justice to your position
- developing your career
And now…here are the 4 steps to take in order to navigate this very tricky aspect of being a new administrator. Ask these questions and get answers to each of these points and you will be off to great start.
- What are my strengths? Why was a selected for this position?
- How do I learn best (reading, listening, doing, speaking)?
- What words would I use to describe myself at work?
- Confrontational, argumentative, opinionated, logical, calm, private, transparent, honest, political, easy going, perfectionist, empathetic, timid, aggressive, thoughtful, responsible, unprepared, focused,
Know your responsibilities and the responsibilities of the other administrators. To find out, just ask your supervisor these questions:
- What is the scope of my work?
- What isn’t my responsibility?
- What are the 5 biggest priorities in my position?
- Who is directly under my supervision? Who will I be expected to evaluate in terms of job performance?
- How are my responsibilities different from jobs x, y, z in the administration?
- What results are we after?
- How often will you and I meet with the rest of the administration?
- How often will you and I meet one on one?
- What’s the best way to reach you/communicate with you if you are busy and I am not able to see you?
Know the school improvement goals for the year. See what is in your supervisor’s mind as far as the big picture and year long, school-wide goals.
- What are the biggest challenges we are facing this year?
- What are the biggest changes we are undergoing?
- What goals do we have and how will we achieve them?
- Will I be specifically in charge of certain goals or changes for the year?
Learn all you can about the field of school management and leadership
- Read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos, sign-up for online learning, and meet other middle managers/principals
Build new and healthy relationships with teachers and administration
- Don’t talk about anyone behind their back, not teachers, not students, not parents, and not administrators
- Listen, ask questions, and get to know your colleagues
- Be consistent, relationships take time, quality time