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Principals, teachers and kids downunder are gearing up for the start of a new school year.

As a Principal and Head of School I have always loved the start of the new school year. There’s excitement in the air mixed with dreams, challenges, opportunities and possibilities. All great motivation for learning.

Here are 5 tips I’ve learnt NOT TO DO over the years to make sure the start of the school year goes well for everyone. I hope they’re helpful for you too.

1. Everyone’s excited! It’s great to get back together with your team and talk about holidays, adventures and even disasters. Don’t make the mistake of complaining, gossiping or blaming. Take 100% responsibility for changing your school to meet the needs of 21st Century learners. You will love what you and your team achieve.

2. Don’t give your time away too freely. Reconsider the Open Door Policy! This was a great idea in the 20th Century, but it really doesn’t work today. Giving away your time willy-nilly to others means you are not in control of your time and you are not focusing on the school’s most important priorities. Certainly make yourself available to your school community but do it strategically. Block out the times in your day and weekly calendar to focus on your Strategic Plan goals. NEVER cancel these times unless it is a real emergency. Schedule alternative times during the week for people to make appointments to see you if they feel the need. Empower others to solve their problems or come to you with a  ‘suggested solution’ to discuss. Encouraging ‘power to’ rather than ‘power over’ is an awesome 21st Century Leadership skill. Remember, the school community depends on you being a strategist who is always focused on growing the school to best cater for Gen Z and Gen Alpha.

3. Don’t make the mistake of meeting for the sake of having regular meetings. Plan meetings for a strategic purpose or to develop professional learning outcomes, not to disseminate information. I plan Meetups when we need them to be agile and flexible. Your teachers will appreciate this and see you as a learner and an innovator, which is so important in the 21st Century!

4. Don’t focus on what is urgent. Basically this is crisis management and you need to stop doing it fast. Not only is this not showing leadership for your school, you will burn yourself and possibly others out. Focus on what is most important. Manage your distractions! Get organized, schedule your priorities, delegate, supervise, create a Stop Doing list and breathe. 

5. DO NOT worry about what you didn’t get done each day. Always focus on what you did get done and celebrate that. Only focus on 5 or 6 tasks each day and before going to sleep think of the 3 things you did get done and the 5 things you will focus on tomorrow. You will sleep much better if you do. Remember, if you did not achieve a high priority task reschedule it for the very next day, or the soonest available time, and make sure you get it done. Always Think Strategically and you will be an Awesome 21st Century Principal!

If you would like to know what challenges you will face and how to overcome them download the Think Strategic White Paper below.

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