Establishing Relationships by Joanne Rooney
Leadership is all about establishing relationships with staff, parents, central office, the media, school boards and the community at large. Needless to say, positive relationships with the students is a given! Here are some down-to-earth strategies that assure that we are positive about this work.
- Central Office can either be a supportive link to your school’s work or can be its biggest obstacle. Invite a central office administrator (curriculum director, superintendent, human resource director) to a staff meeting. Introduce them and ask them to observe and give you feedback on the meeting. You form an advocate for your school at central office plus, having another “set of eyes” might give you insight.
- When needing to speak to teachers – do so on their TURF – THEIR classroom or office. This levels the playing field and the conversation becomes one between two persons on the same team.
- Ask a trusted parent to review your parent communication. Honest feedback here helps. Also asking for “help” shows that you are human, trusting, and open to suggestion.
- Call a teacher’s home during school time with a message of thanks. For example, leave something like this on the voice mail: “Saw you help Jimmy with his math when I visited today. You were so affirming to him! Just want to tell you that you are appreciated.” When the teacher arrives home – what a nice surprise!
- Bus drivers are also people. A “hot chocolate day” or a “lemonade day” for them might be an easy way to say thanks. They will then become part of your cheerleading team, less likely to complain, and easier to work with.
- Call the newspaper occasionally with an invite to visit or cover a specific story. They probably won’t show up but they will know your name and voice.
- Neighbors around the school can be plagued by kids. A note to those who live in homes adjacent to the school site inviting them to an open house or a school event acknowledges their proximity to the school.
- Sit down and talk with union leaders in the school. Try to affirm that you know they have their specific job to do – but that all in the school are there because of kids. “How can we avoid spilling our resources as adversaries and work together?”
- Custodians are often invisible. Invite them to staff events, luncheons, and other social events. Sitting down somewhere on THEIR turf and consulting with them affirms their work. (They probably know more about what goes on in the school than most!)
- Finally – spend some time relating to yourself. Reflection on your work, its purpose and why you got into education to begin with helps renew the spirit, slows you down a bit and helps you realize that the work that school leaders do is critical to the lives – to the hearts and souls of kids!
© Joanne Rooney, Ed.D. | Co-Director Midwest Principals’ Center
580 North First Bank Drive | Palatine, IL. 60067 | 847-963-3123
www.midwestprincipalscenter.org | email@example.com
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