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Saturday, October 20, 2012

4 Tips For School Administrators

There is a lesson here for every school administrator in this country:

1. Share a vision

If leaders want to spark real change, they need to collaborate with teachers and other staff to create a vision for their schools. Once they have a common vision to work toward, leaders have to communicate that vision over and over again, Larkin said.
Changing the culture is not easy, and it won't happen if leaders mandate teachers to do things differently, said Deron Durflinger from Van Meter Schools in Iowa.

"We can’t just come in and say, 'This is how it’s going to be,'" he said. "We have to engage them, we have to give them ownership, and they have to see the results to believe in it.”

2. Start a conversation

Throughout the process of carrying out a vision, leaders must support their staff by listening, sharing decision making and building relationships with them, as well as with students and parents, said Eric Sheninger, the principal of New Milford High School in New Jersey.
Asking questions and working together toward the answers is also a big part of the process, Larkin said.
“I don’t feel like, as a principal, I need to have all the answers anymore," he said. "If I think I should have all the answers, there’s something wrong with me.”

3. Learn with other educators

And part of finding those answers involves working with other people and solving problems together. Building a network of other educators who can share resources and give advice is essential.
“This is what I tell my teachers every day: “Together, we are better. If we don’t work toward a common goal together, we defeat the purpose of education,” Sheninger said. " And I think everyone on this planet that’s in education has to be working toward that goal and have that philosophy.”


4. Lead by example

Traditionally, most high school teachers do not work together, oftentimes because of the way their schedule is structured, and that needs to change, Larkin said. In this age of collaboration, teachers must adjust so they can model the skills their students should learn.
“We need to teach kids to be collaborators, but we can’t have people that don’t collaborate teaching kids to be collaborators,” Larkin said. “Kids get it if you don’t walk the walk. If you’re telling them it’s important to collaborate and think critically and problem solve together, and you never talk to the person in the room next door, then that’s problematic.”
Administrators have to be the biggest cheerleaders and model what they want their students and staff to do, Sheninger said. If leaders do not follow through on their idea, don't provideprofessional development and don't lead by example, people will not buy into it, and they won't ever change the culture.

"We can’t be an empty suit and just tell someone to go and do this," he said." We roll our sleeves up and we get down and dirty because we are committed and passionate about creating cultures of innovation that are going to enable our students to think critically, to be globally educated, because the ultimate goal is for them to be successful once they leave the walls of our building.”

Click here to read the full post on Center for digital education.

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