Summertime is a time of transition for all of us in education. Kids change grades and teachers, teachers change students and activities, administrators change staff members, curriculums and policies. All of us spend at least some of the summer thinking about the changes that are to come to ensure that those transitions go smoothly. For most, these are the changes we take in stride year to year. Some of us, however, are facing big changes with new positions, new districts, new curriculums, new systems and policies that requires that we do some serious planning. Where do you begin?
Summer is a great time to take stock of what is to come, i.e. to make an appraisal of resources and potentialities if you are in a new position (or revaluating at year end). You know the old saying “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” – Breaking down huge tasks into bite-sized pieces is a great way to help get the job done.
Superintendent Dan Foster wrote a great article in School Administrator titled “Planning for a Smooth Transition” based on Sean Covey’s advice “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” In the article he shares the 5 areas that he worked to develop an understanding of:
- Administrative Team
Ask the Right Questions
So how does one begin to talk to each of these stakeholders? Encourage those stakeholders to brainstorm a quick list of the issues (including the positive) and then go back and ask them to clarify those issues that are important from their perspective. You might start the conversation by asking questions that will help each share their pride and their concerns:
- What issues seem to be important to you?
- What opportunities do we face?
- What threats do we face?
Listening to stakeholder’s concerns is a great first step in building the trust and rapport you will need to move forward. Based on the issues that come up, you can begin to prioritize and develop a plan for the week, month and year ahead.
What is your best advice to new leaders?