The enigma of school leadership (and teaching, for that matter): How do we find time to do everything that we are supposed to do? Between budgets, teacher evaluations, community relationship building, collaboration, student events, student concerns, student discipline, parent concerns and groups, the local Educational Foundation, district/state/federal paperwork, building mishaps, transportation mishaps, etc, it is really quite challenging. When I was completing coursework to be a school administrator (and of course, the landscape of budgets and education were a bit different 10-15 years ago), I never fully grasped the insane number of tasks one was expected to accomplish in this role as school leader.
What I learned over my time as a school leader that I try to convey to future school leaders is this. I’ve seen (and I myself have also) leaders struggle with the balance of tasks. My “solution” to this is investing time upfront to get time back in the long run. Here are some ways that I found investing time upfront really helps in the spring time, when schools are infiltrated with standardized testing, “senioritis” from students of all ages and staff members, etc.
1) Relationship building: If I spent time upfront, in the beginning of the school year doing this with students, staff members, and faculty members, the crazy and stressful circumstances that just happen in schools are easier to manage when there is a sense of care among all parties.
2) Being visible in classrooms/hallways: this is part of the building relationship process, but it also alerts you to the pulse of the school and the classrooms. And frankly, in my estimation, this is one of the most fun parts of the job! In addition, when you receive the parent phone calls about a classroom incident, for example, it’s more likely you already know about it and can speak to it without having to spend time on the back end researching what happened.
3) Frontloading observations: This is HUGE. As an administrator who always worked with student discipline in my roles of assistant principal and principal of a school-within-a-school model, I learned very quickly how student discipline concerns ebb and flow…. and they REALLY flow later into the school year. Plus, if you spend that extra time upfront in classrooms, it’s another way to have a good pulse instructionally on what’s happening. Finally, I, as the school leader, was able to identify teachers in need of support EARLY, which can safe time in the long run if assistance is provided and problem solved instead of spending hours writing and enforcing teacher improvement plans.