One definition of leadership that I like is:
Leadership is saying, “Follow me!” Not, “Go there!”
School administrators are not necessarily the only educational leaders in the school, but they are often the most visible. Knowing that every time you leave your office to venture out into the school (which I hope is very often), how much attention do you give to the non-verbal signals people pick up on and what do those signals say about what you care about in your school? For example, one thing I try to do as often as possible is carry the book I am reading in my pocket (if it is a paperback). While it is rare that anyone asks about my book, I want students to see that reading is important. I am also sending a signal to others that at my school reading is valued.
Here are a few other suggestions. Let’s start with the beginning of the day.
- During drop off time, are you outside welcoming your students and families?
- Are you in the hallways speaking to students?
- Are you visiting teachers and checking in with them to see how they are doing?
- At lunch, do you eat in your office or do you eat with students?
- Is making time to be with the faculty and talking to children on your calendar?
- Do you walk around during the day and talk to students about their work?
- Do you drop in to watch an interesting class?
- At the end of the day, do you thank students and teachers for their efforts?
- Are you making it a priority to be out and visible during these transition times?
I understand that it is impossible to do all of these each day, but if you find yourself feeling out of touch with your students, families, or teachers, try finding some time to try a few of these items.