With the winds of October blowing in the air we can also feel the calmness of the school day begin to make way. The children have settled into a routine and there is a lot less crying.
As a school director you may have begun to settle into some sort of routine. You are grateful for less fires and emergencies that September had, however you still feel like you are catching your breath.
Even more so, you may be seeing new problems brewing at the surface and you are deciding whether you should let is fester further because you don't have time to deal with it, or should you dig in and see how to make it better?
You may be noticing a few or all of the following things happening in your school.
1. Very emotionally needy teachers knocking your door down at all hours of the day. They need your attention and they want it now. This activity alone is eating so much of your day you barely have time for anything else....
2. Teachers are coming late, taking off, giving in their 2 week notice or worse just quitting! "This isn't my passion or calling" is their response when you look in horror as to how in the world will you find coverage for the class and stay in ratio?!
3. Every time you try to hit your "To do" list something else comes up and someone else needs your attention and there is just one more phone call to return, one more email to respond and just one more parent that has a question. Before you can blink it's 7pm and the building is quiet. Now you can get some work done.... Only to rinse and repeat this cycle everyday till burnout and exhaustion get the better of you!
In my time of working with EC Leaders from all over the world, I've found 3 common mistakes that they keep making again and again. The problem with repeating these mistakes is that it's costing you in more ways than you can care to think about.
- Staff morale
- Teacher retention
- Emotional well being
- School environment and culture
-Accountability for your staff
- Buy-in from your teachers
and a whole lot more
What are the 3 mistakes?
Mistake #1 - Poor Planning
When you come to school in the morning you only have a basic idea of what you want to do that day. However you don't take the time to properly plan what each hour will look like and what are the most important projects that need to get done that day.
So what happens is - the day hits YOU! and you become the punching bag for everyone else's issues. You need to solve everyone's problems and you feel like the savior and rescuer!
"What do you mean? My people need me! I need to be there for them!"
Yes you need to be there for your staff.
And you also need to block out times of the day that are dedicated to the most important projects of building the school.
If you spend all day putting out fires, how will you ever grow the school? You stay in survival mode your entire life!
Want to know what you day should look like? Join the EC Leadership Conference to learn more.
Mistake #2 - Passing the Buck!
You are working your tail off to get the school growing. You are putting in more hours than you can count and staying late and sacrificing your family and everything so that you teachers can have what they need etc.
And then what do you get in return? Ungrateful teachers, disgruntled parents, and lots of discipline problems with the kids!
For real? Is that the payback for so much effort?
So what do you do? You pass the buck.
"It's the teachers, they don't get it, they are lazy, they don't want to do the work, I give them everything, they just don't appreciate it what I do"
"It's these parents, you can't give them enough, they are so overprotective, how come nothing makes them happy, I don't know what they need to stop complaining"
"It's the kids, they just don't listen, we've tried every strategy in the books and they still won't listen, they all need extra services and support...."
You most probably hear yourself in some of these sayings. The reason is that it is very easy to pass the buck and state that it is everyone else's fault and not take responsibility.
As a leader - you need to take charge! You lead by example. Don't pass the buck.
-Take a look at your actions
-Your daily activity and the way you are showing up each day
-Is there something you can do to make things better for the staff?
-Create the environment for them want to do more and push themselves further?
Building this type of culture takes hard word - Fortunately I sat down with Simon Sinek and discussed at great length what EC Leaders can do about this. Check out the interview here
Mistake # 3- Generic thank you's
I'm part of several Facebook groups and recently I saw a comment from a director that blew my mind.
"My teachers worked really hard for curriculum night and I want to tell them thank you. What is the quickest and easiest thing I can bake for them, and does anyone have a cute card that can go with it?"
I just sat there staring my screen with my mouth wide open!
Your staff worked so hard for curriculum and what you as the leader looking for
"the quickest and easiest".....
you expect your staff to push themselves and work hard and then your thank you is the quick and easy option!
and you wanted a generic "cute" card - they aren't 7!
They are adults, they worked hard, say thank you like you would want to be thanked for working hours and hours on end for an event like curriculum night.
This Director is a great person, and I know her well. She didn't mean anything not nice.
She is guilty of mistake #3 of EC Leaders- using generic thank you's
I won't go into great detail of how this breaks trust, morale, teacher retention and actually creates whiny, emotionally needy and apathetic staff.
I will say, that in this case what the right thing to do would be to find out
1. What is every teacher's favorite food and either buy it for it or bake it
2. Write a personal card to thank them for the effort they put in to the curriculum night.
And if your first question to this, "I don't have time"
Then go back to mistake #1 which is poor planning. Look at your calendar and make sure you are making the time for gratitude for your staff.
They pay off is more than you can dream of.
If you want even more strategies and tips on how to be an effective school leader then join me and thousands of other EC Leaders at the online event of the year! The EC Leadership Conference- we start November 5th.
The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!