As school leaders, there are many things that are added to our plate in a school year. Some are delegated to us by district leaders while others are self-delegated. We often spend our days focusing on the urgent instead of the important tasks that will help us reach our goals. This leaves us feeling like fire-fighters rather than leaders on a mission to improve student learning outcomes. If you would like to know how to be an impactful school leader, follow these 5 steps at least once a year.
Step 1: Define your overall purpose and goals
Start by describing your role as school leader. What is the main goal of your Role?
For example: As the building principal my goal is to provide a learning environment in which staff and students can thrive socially, emotionally and academically.
Then, decide what 3 deliverables will help you meet that goal. You may choose things like:
Regular classroom observations with feedback
Monthly staff meetings that include staff well-being and planning support for student well-being
Monthly MTSS meetings that focus on Behavior, Academics, and SEL data and interventions
There are many deliverables that would fit this goal. Just be sure to keep it to three deliverables. By staying narrow in your focus, you will be able to accomplish great things without feeling overwhelmed.
Next, determine your Responsibilities based on the 3 deliverables. Ask yourself, “What do I do?” for each deliverable.
Then, identify the Results that will answer the question, “How do I know I’m on track?”.
Finally, list out the Requirements by asking yourself, “How will I know I’m meeting expectations?”.
Step 2: Make a List of Everything You Currently Do
Now, it is time for a reality check. Make a list of everything you currently do in your job day-to-day. Do not leave anything out. If you cover lunch duty, put it on the list. If you sit in on case conferences, put it on the list. Whatever you do it a week, make sure it is listed. Don’t leave anything off.
Step 3: Determine what can come off of that list
Here comes the good part. Decide what can come off of your list! Take a look at the goal or your role as well as your deliverables and be honest with yourself. What tasks have crept onto your weekly routines that do not fit your main goal as a leader?
When you determine what tasks need to come off your list, decide what needs to be delegated. If it is a task that must be accomplished, determine who can do it instead. Think outside of the box. There are staff members in your building that have room in their schedules to take on some of your tasks. If the task is not something that must be done, decide if it can be eliminated or if it can be done less frequently by someone else.
Step 4: Prioritize the list
Now that you have a smaller list, take some time to prioritize your remaining tasks. Make sure that they directly align with your deliverables. While this sounds simple, it may take you a bit of time.
Step 5: Set up your calendar to reflect the prioritized list
The final step is to make sure that your calendar is filled with tasks that reflect your prioritized list. Your top three tasks should take up the majority of your time. They are the most important and offer the most value in moving toward your goal, so you need to spend your time focusing on them.
As you move down the list, you will appropriate less time. Therefore, when things “pop up” that are far down on the list, they may not get done that day. Urgent things should not rule our days. The focus of an impactful leader stays on what is important and not what is urgent.
By following the 5 steps to becoming an impactful leader, you will reduce your stress and stop wondering where the day went at the end of each school day. Instead, you will know the impact that you have on your staff and students.