Top 10 Tips for School Leaders for a Successful 2017

A new year brings 365 new opportunities; opportunities to learn, to grow, and to change.

Being in the world of education, we know that learning never stops. I have always encouraged my students to keep learning — no matter where they are — and I hope you actively choose to do the same for yourself!

In an effort to make 2017 a successful year, I have put together some notes on where I am choosing to focus my team and our students this year.

Here are my top 10 tips for a successful 2017:

  1. Revisit rules, norms, expectations, and goals with your respective staffs and students. I cannot stress the importance of this enough; there is a reason why I chose to place it at the top of the list. With the holiday break behind us and half of the school year ahead of us, students and staff could likely use a reminder of expectations. It is up to you to provide these gentle reminders and get them on the right path in 2017.
  2. Create a sense of urgency. What we do is important– very important. However, it is up to each of us to create this type of environment. We must show improvement in all areas: culture, communication, punctuality, citizenship, behavior, and yes, academic outcomes. Put frankly, the future of the school is at stake. What we do is important. Make sure we model this for all those we serve.
  3. Don’t trip over your ego. I’ve met a lot of people and watched folks work in all sorts of situations and the one thing that consistently derails people is the inability to manage their ego. There are three keys to managing your ego. The first step, don’t take anything personally. Taking things personally is relinquishing your power; in fact, you are actually giving the other person power over you. Don’t do it. A second recommendation is to keep the end in mind. Ask yourself, what is it you want out of the situation? The third and final suggestion: remember,  you are who you argue with.
  4. Be where your feet are. Humans are unique in that our minds possess the ability to be in three different places: the past, the present, or the future. Learn from the past, plan for the future, but be where your feet are. Before you know it, the present will be the past you took for granted. Tomorrow is not guaranteed– make the most of today.
  5. Increase your presence in areas that matter. When you are at work, where are the most important places for you to be? If you are a school leader, the three top answers are the classroom, the classroom, and the classroom. You should do an observation daily, even if for only 15 minutes. The classrooms are where the rubber meets the road– get there, be there, and provide feedback. Moreover, thank your educators for allowing you to watch them in action. Doing this will make a difference. Trust me. Attend staff meetings; sit down in the lunchroom and eat with your students when you have the opportunity to do so; be visible and active during drop-off and pick-up times; spend some time in the parking lot chatting with parents and opening doors for kids; and be where the action takes place, when it takes place.
  6. Be a good teammate. People in schools want to gossip. Don’t gossip. Utilize Socrates’ three filters– they are as follows: Is what you are about to tell me true? Is what you are about to tell me good news? Is what you are about to tell me useful? If it does not pass these three filters, politely ask them to keep that poison to themselves. You will be doing yourself a massive favor.
  7. Communicate with clarity and compassion. Be gentle and communicate in a way that allows others to save face and guard their dignity. Clear, compassionate communication is the grease that allows the engine to keep running smoothly.
  8. Put away your gavel– you are not Judge Judy. We are all flawed and we were all created the same way. God didn’t spend any extra time on you, me, or anyone else. None of us are as bad as others may believe or as good as we would like to believe. True story. Judgment is not our job. Instead, our job is to support one another!
  9. Err on the side of grace. Be gentle with one another. Everyone you meet is fighting some type of battle or dealing with some type of challenge. What may appear small to you may mean the world to them. Go forth in kindness.
  10. Rope up. Cowboys and cowgirls are for the movies; we don’t need any Lone Rangers in our Academies. What we do need is one another. If the job before us could be completed by one person it would have already been done. Nothing– and I mean nothing– of significance is accomplished alone. We need one another. When folks are climbing mountains they “rope up” so that in the event they fall they do not fall to their death; they are saved by the connection to their fellow climber(s). Sounds like a good arrangement to me!

I hope that 2017 is a year of growth and focus for your team. Remember to guide, support, and encourage your team like your school’s livelihood depends on it — because it does! We’re in this together. Let’s work together to make 2017 the best year, yet.

What are some additional tips that your team is implementing this year? What is your team doing to make this the best year yet? Share in the comments below.