September 27, 2018

So you want to be an admin...the preparation

People ask me on a regular basis...

"What should I do if I want to be a school administrator?"

I always respond, "other than run...!" Just kidding...well maybe not, I guess there is some truth to that. There is a reason I say that it is because you need to be careful what you wish for. I remember thinking, no schedule, every day is a new day...those are the very things that can wear you down. In all reality, it is probably not what you think. I am definitely not trying to discourage but get ready for a world different than you are used to.

If I have not scared you off, then GOOD. Much like teaching, being an administrator is a calling and it is hard to run from anyways.


So...if you want to start exploring the idea of becoming an administrator, here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Find a mentor
This is HUGE! You need to find someone who is good at what they do, someone you look up to and someone who is willing to be of assistance. I got lucky pretty early and landed a great mentor. And, it is ok to have several too. I did. In fact, connections are important and you should seek the advice of more than one person. In today's world that is super easy, just get on Twitter and see for yourself.

2. Get the appropriate schooling, certification, etc
Self-explanatory...in most states you need the appropriate license or certification to even become an assistant principal. Sometimes that is not the case but ultimately you will need the credentials. For the most part, those credentials will involve some extra time in a university setting and most of the result in a Masters degree or higher. Good news though, there are more and more reputable programs offering these options online. My advice, look around and go for what works for you both academically and the wallet.

3. Build a PLN - include future admins and current admins and even leaders outside of education
Even before you take steps towards becoming an admin, you should be building your Professional Learning Network (PLN). I had great experiences and learned a ton in my graduate programs BUT I also made connections that I still interact with today. Also, since becoming active on Twitter, I have made some great connections outside of my district, my city and even my state. These valuable connections (some of whom I have actually met) can and will play an active role in your career, now and in the future.

4. Get on Twitter
I think I have said this a number of times. In fact, if you know me or have heard me speak, then you know this ALWAYS comes up. Right now, Twitter is the best platform for me in regards to professional development. I have participated in Twitter Chats that last an hour that have been more beneficial than a three day conference. How's that for saving time and money?? Plus, I have built some strong professional and personal relationships on Twitter that have been more valuable than I can even explain in a blog post. If you do not have an account, get one and follow me. If you have an account, get back on it and follow me. Ask questions, lurk, follow people who you find interesting and when you are ready, jump on one of those chats.

5. Start thinking like a teacher and a principal
This one is difficult. One of the bits of advice I give to future admins getting ready to take the license test is..."don't answer the questions like a teacher." That is NOT a knock on teachers but simply an indication that the roles require different perspectives and answers. Have you ever wondered why your principal did something a certain way? When you become one, it will probably make more sense. Your "vision" as a principal is different than that of a teacher. Not that one is better or right, it is simply a different viewpoint. Trust me on this one. Start paying attention to the admins around you and look and how and why they make decisions a certain way. And, if you have a mentor, ask them why they do the things they do...they won't mind.

6. Take on leadership roles, not only to prove yourself but to LEARN
Yes, you may have to work the prom or the yearly beauty pageant but I promise, in the long run you will get something out of it. You learn how to interact with people. You learn how to assign tasks. You also learn how to deal with people who do not agree with you and also may be extremely angry with you. Believe it or not, there is a skill with those situations. Any leadership role is going to be helpful. Be sure to volunteer for a variety of those roles to get a variety of experiences.

7. Let someone know you are interested...preferably someone who might hire you.
My first year as a teacher, I told my Director of Schools, "I want to do what you do." He laughed and said the same thing I said earlier...run while you can. I know he was joking for the most part but I also know that he took it seriously and from that point on, he mentally put me on his list of potential future admins. Several years down the road I got that opportunity and guess who put me there...you guessed it!


If you do not let people know of your intentions, then it is likely that it will be a missed opportunity in the future.

So there you go...seven important tips. There are tons more that will benefit you but those seven can get you a good start. Remember, being an admin is NOT for the faint of heart but if you truly want it, then go for it!

MS

Stay tuned for the next So you want to be an admin...If you missed the last one, click HERE.

September 8, 2018

So You Want to be a School Admin...The 80/20 Rule...

Tim Ferriss (one of my favorite authors and podcaster), talks about this concept called Pareto's Principle. According to Brian Tracy, leadership blogger, Pareto's Principle was named after its founder, Vilfredo Pareto back in the late 19th century.

Simply put...

20% of your time (or resources, or money, etc) result in 80% of the outcome. So conversely that means 80% of what you do only results in 20% of the outcome. It works in sports, business, money etc. In case you want to see that in action, check out this article from Forbes.

Borrowed diagram from siimland.com

Think about that in your everyday life and see if it applies. How many times do we spend 80% of our time on something that only has a 20% affect on our lives or workplace.

Both Ferriss and Tracy talk about looking at your to do lists. If you have 10 things on your list, chances are only 2 of them are really worthy of spending a large amount of time. Your daily routine can become more efficient by really focusing on those things that deserve the majority of your time.

As a school leader (especially when I was a principal) I found that a GREAT DEAL of my time was spent putting out fires, dealing with paperwork, sitting in meetings, etc. I can promise you that I was not always efficient. Just because I was busy, did not mean that what I was doing was effective or had the most impact for my school.

Sound familiar?

Many times we equate being busy with productivity but I bet if we examine ourselves using the Pareto Principle, we may realize that is not necessarily accurate.

So what do we do?

1. Keep a simple activity log just for one week just to see what you are actually doing. I am almost afraid to do this because I am sure I will be mad at myself when I see how much time I spend on email.

2. Prioritize your "to-do" lists. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind and really focus on those top few. That doesn't mean ignore everything else but make you spend time on what is going to have the biggest impact.

3. Recognize that you will NEVER get everything done. The list will always grow. In my experiences I have always received satisfaction from marking things off of my list. But, I found myself adding things to my list just so I could mark them off easily. I know, weird right?

4. Learn to say no to some things.  This is a hard one for me too. It is ok to say no. It is not rude, disrespectful or a sign you are not a team player. Sometimes you can get really bogged down in other people's priorities. Therefore your priorities suffer.

5. Avoid negativity like the plague. Negativity can easily slow down your progress. It can also creep in and become 80% of your day. Do you know people who have a negativity cloud around them 80% of the day, or more? Ugh....

Using the 80/20 rule can be beneficial to some, others it may drive them crazy. The key is, every leader has to determine what works for them.

Stay tuned for more tips for your journey to becoming a school administrator.

MS