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Back to School. The Do’s and Don’ts for School Leaders.

Back to School. The Do’s and Don’ts for School Leaders.

Millions of kids around the world are heading back to school for the start of 2015. Hopefully they are excited, enthusiastic and happy. How do School Leaders prepare themselves for the ‘Back to School’ season? Here are my suggestions.


  1. Show confidence at all times. Many people depend on and trust you. As a leader it is always important to show a confident disposition.  Recognize that there are times and life situations when you might not feel confident, so do something about that. View Amy Cuddy’s  research-based advice on strategies to make sure you are always feeling confident.
  2. Look after yourself. Holiday time is over, time to get back on track with your health and fitness program. And this is not just for you, it is also important for leading your teams. Harvard Business Review cites human neuroscience research that suggests people feel more comfortable with healthy looking leaders and “a relatively healthy-looking leader may have a better chance of gaining sufficient levels of followership investment to initiate change.” So make sure you take care of your health and fitness.
  3. Be positive, optimistic and creative. See problems as opportunities for growth, development and innovation.  Use Daniel Goldman’s research to foster positivity at your school to motivate your teachers.
  4. Be a cheerleader for your school. Be excited, learning is fun and something we will do throughout our lives. Outline the year’s directions to teachers, students and parents at appropriate forums. Communicate the school’s Strategic Plan accomplishments and launch the next strategic goals to build pride, commitment and a sense of achievement and purpose within the school community.
  5. Focus. Never before has managing your time been so challenging. The call of emails, Social Media, the Internet of Things, interested parents, innovative teachers and motivated learners all require some of your time and your time management skills are crucial to being productive and strategic.  Douglas Reeves  believes focus is a 21st Century skill for teachers, principals and students.
  6. Remember it’s 2015, look around your school; does it look like the school you attended when you were 10 years of age? If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to get a team together to plan 21st Century Learning Spaces for your Generation Z & Generation Alpha students; the smartest generations yet with superior technology and global knowledge and skills.
  7. Think Strategically and make sure you have a 2, 3, or 5-year Strategic Plan in place at your school. Use it to plan your personal action plan each year and each term.  Ensure your teams also use the Strategic Plan to prioritize their Annual Action Plans.
  8. Champion learning by asking individual students and teachers what they enjoyed learning each day. Make time to sit in classrooms and learn with the students. Ensure Personalized Learning Programs are offered across your school. Attend professional development with your teachers to model life-long learning.
  9. Be passionate about what you do and have fun.



  1. Complain, gossip or blame. Read Jack Canfield’s The Success Principles and take 100% responsibility for everything that happens in your school.
  2. 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. 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. The school community depends on you being a strategist who is always focused on the important priorities of growing the school to best cater for 21st Century Learners.
  3. Meet for the sake of having regular meetings. Plan meetings for a strategic purpose and outcome.
  4. Focus on what is urgent. Basically this is crisis management and you need to stop it fast. Not only is this not showing leadership for your school, you will burn yourself and possibly others out. Focus on what it most important. Get organized, schedule your priorities, delegate, supervise and breathe. Arianna Huffington provides great advice in her book Thrive.
  5. Worry about what you didn’t get done each day. Always focus on what you did get done and celebrate that. You will sleep much better if you do. 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!


If you would like support to review your Strategic Plan or develop a new Strategic Plan contact Maxine at Think Strategic.

    Download our "Top 3 Challenges Facing School Leaders today" whitepaper and learn how to overcome them.