School leaders have several managerial tasks to direct in order to be successful in their roles within a school district. Some of the major tasks are school management and operational systems, resource management, policies and procedures, distributed leadership, and supervision. While each school leader may go about the implementation and overseeing of each category differently, they have to ensure each component is managed properly. When thinking about the establishment of a new principal one of the most important aspects is management and operational systems.
School Management and Operational Systems
There are several facets to management and operational systems. In order for a school leader to understand how to evaluate them, they must first know what they are. Mosaica Education (2015) put together a comprehensive list of management and operational areas for school leaders. The broad categories are (1) Financial Services, (2) Marketing, Public Relations and Communications, (3) Human Resources, (4) Facilities, (5) Technology, (6) and Educational Programming and Staff Development. There are so many aspects to what the school leader has to manage under each of these components. To start the school leader need to understand the current standing in each of these areas. Then the school leader should identify the current measures in place to monitor the operations or develop monitoring procedures. Those procedures could include action plans, committee meetings, timelines, and schedules. To evaluate the success of each of these areas, the school leaders should tie each item to the school vision. Once the stakeholders identify how the operational component connects to the school vision, they can begin to evaluate its effectiveness towards helping the school achieve its vision.
I would ensure that the operational systems included marketing and public relations by identifying it is a goal within the school action plan. I would work with the School Family Council to plan marketing and public relations tasks to promote the school vision. This would include a weekly email blast to parents and community members. It would also include the monthly school newsletter. I would also include activities like coffee with the principal and monthly parent workshops to show parents the school is committed and available to help their students achieve.
To analyze the needs of an organization, most leaders develop SWOT Analysis. A SWOT analysis is a report generated by a company to analyze the internal and external risks and opportunities that a company has. SWOT is an acronym that stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (Mindtools.com). Strengths represent the things that the organization is currently doing well. Here a team outlines the success the school or organization may have had in the last few years. Weaknesses are the second component. Here the team gathers information about the challenges that the school or organization has. These two areas (strengths and weaknesses) are internal aspects of the organization. The last two categories are the external factors affecting the success of an organization. Opportunities are the areas where the organization can think about putting more effort into so that stakeholder needs are met. This might include offering extra programs and workshops for parents. Lastly, threats are the things that other organizations, schools, and districts are doing that are more valuable and interesting to your stakeholders. This might include schools that have gifted and talented programming, fine arts integration, or clubs and sports. A school leader can use the SWOT analysis to analyze how the school is using the resources of staff, materials, finances, and technology. This is just one way that a school leader may begin to analyze and monitor the operations within a school.
To ensure resources are aligned properly I would ensure the school vision incorporates the resources the school offers. If the resources don’t align with the goals of the school, the leadership team and stakeholders may have to discuss ways to properly align the resources to the school vision. If there isn’t a way to incorporate the possible resources, then the team may have to consider removing some of the resources.
Policies and Procedures
The first step a school leader should follow to understand and promote school-based policy is to know what they are. The school leaders should read all of the district policy documents. They should familiarize themselves with the student code of conduct for their particular school district. If the school leader is new to the school district it may take them a little longer to understand the policies that are in place. It might also help if the school leader talks to other school leaders or a mentor to help them understand the policies that are in place and how they may affect their ability to make decisions in the school building,
Once the school leader understands the policies that are already in place for the school, they can begin to think about the policies that may need to go into effect to support the vision of the school. To promote the acceptance of those policies the school leader may develop a policy team to help create some buy-in on the policies that need to drafted and supported by the teachers and other members of the school community. Once the stakeholders of the school community can agree on the policies and procedures, the school leaders can begin to promote and enforce the new policies.
To also ensure schools are prepared to meet the needs of the stakeholders, Dr. Gwendolyn Cooke (2007) suggest that school leaders complete several exercises to understand their current practices as a school leader in order to improve the leadership ability. Under the realm of policy and procedures, she outlines a four-question reflective practice exercise focusing on the control in a school building. It focuses heavily on the procedures that are in place to answer the questions stakeholders would have(Cooke, 2007). A school leader has to understand what is the policies and procedures that are already in place and then think about how they align with the mission and vision of the school. The school leader then has to think about if the policy that is in place is enough to meet the needs of the school.
For a school leader to develop school capacity by utilizing distributed leadership, they have to first understand the concepts and theories that are the foundation of the strategy. Alma Harris (2014) describes distributed leadership as being “primarily concerned with mobilizing leadership expertise at all levels in the organization to generate more opportunities for change and to generate the capacity for improvement.” Harris (2014), outlines five major components that make up the distributed leadership: “(1) it is concerned with building the capacity to innovate and change, (2) is inclusive and implies broad involvement in leadership practice, (3) does not mean that everyone leads, but everyone has the potential, (4) there is no overall blueprint, (5) requires high levels of trust”.
A professional learning community is one way that school leaders can foster the development of distributed leadership in a school building. A professional learning community (PLC) is a chance for school staff to work together to enhance outcomes for students. This group works together to develop and implement strategies that they can use in their classrooms to enhance student achievement. This fits into the realm of distributed leadership because it is the teacher teams that are doing the work to move the students, not just listening to the wants and the needs of the school leadership team.
Student achievement goal for any school leader. To ensure students are succeeding, teachers must be supported. To ensure teachers are spending time on high-quality instruction school leaders can follow these seven tips. Elisa Ortiz (2011) lists “Seven Skills for Supervision Success”. The skills are (1) listening, (2) availability, (3) mission-focus/priority setting, (4) transparency, (5) delegation, (6) taking responsibility/ giving credit, and (7) realism (Ortiz, 2011). Under listening, Ortiz (2011) suggests forcing yourself not to speak for two minutes and just listen to what the other person has to say. That can mean a lot to a teacher who may not want any feedback, but who wants you to be a listening ear. In terms of availability Ortiz (2001) suggests that you let your staff know when you are available and to be present throughout the building so they know that you are around to assist. A school leader should consider posting their schedule so that stakeholders understand when they are free. Being mission-focused means the school leader is going to ensure that everything they do or suggests focuses on the mission and vision of the school (Ortiz, 2011). Transparency is defined as “not every decision needs a full, 360 explanation, but lots of secrecy is frustrating and ultimately dis-empowering” (Ortiz, 2011). Delegation is being able to provide a staff member with the power to make decisions to get a task completed (Ortiz,2011). Ortiz shares the idea that leaders should accept responsibility if something doesn’t go the right way and give credit to those who make decisions that benefit the school. Lastly, Ortiz (2011) shares that school leaders should not make unrealistic commitments to the stakeholders because it can create unnecessary stress for all parties. These seven strategies will build a positive school culture. By using these supervision strategies, you are fostering positive relationships with teachers and students. Of course, there is the need to make sure the teachers are using high-yield instructional strategies, but if the foundation of a strong professional relationship is absent then leading won’t be effective. In addition to the ideas presented by Ortiz, the supervisor needs to hire skilled teachers, provide ongoing training and support for teachers who need more assistance and be consistent with expectations for all.
There are several components to school leadership and often one person can’t do it alone. The information presented shows that principals have to wear several hats as they manage the day to day operations of a school building. There are several evaluation and analysis tools and strategies that a principal can pick from in order to maintain a clear alignment to the school’s vision. As long as the principal can rally a team and implement the information from above, they will succeed in closing the gap in student achievement.
Cooke, Gwendolyn J. Keys to Success for Urban School Principals. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, 2007. Print.
Harris, Alma. Distributed Leadership Matters: Perspectives, Practicalities, and Potential. Thousand Oaks, California.: Corwin, a SAGE, 2014. Print.
Mosaica Education. (2015). School Management and Operations | Mosaica Education. Retrieved December 02, 2016, from http://mosaicaeducation.com/school-management-operations/
Ortiz, E. M. (2011). 7 Skills for Supervision Success. Retrieved December 02, 2016, from http://www.elisamortiz.org/2011/01/7-skills-for-supervision-success/
SWOT Analysis: Discover New Opportunities, Manage and Eliminate Threats. (n.d.). Retrieved December 02, 2016, from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_05.htm