Given the number of competing agendas for you and your staff, keeping a sharp focus on the target is a challenge. However, keeping staff focused on your school goals is critical to your attainment of those goals. As principal, you have the primary role in keeping this focus. It is you who determines how staff time is used, what is monitored, what is recognized, and how inservice time and resources are used. Therefore, paying careful attention to how you use regularly scheduled staff meeting time, what messages you give and what you recognize and monitor are critical aspects of focusing your staff on the target.
Staff learn what principals value by observing what they pay attention to. Paying attention to the core values and priority goals of the school is the most important way for leaders to communicate effectively. When a school devotes considerable time and effort to the continual assessment of a particular condition or outcome, it notifies all members that the condition or outcome is considered important. Conversely, inattention to monitoring a particular factor in a school indicates that it is less than essential, regardless of how often its importance is verbalized.
Principals have numerous opportunities to pay attention to school improvement goals. Perhaps the most important way is to ensure that regularly scheduled time with staff (staff meetings, team meetings, inservice activities) reflects and reinforces the importance of the progress toward attainment of school improvement goals. Agenda topics might include analyzing and sharing data results, problem solving barriers and solutions, recognizing efforts of staff and stakeholders and celebrating successes, sharing of successful practices, and surveying staff for awareness and understanding of efforts.
You should communicate progress toward attainment of the school improvement goals and objectives in newsletters and other correspondence to staff, parents, and other stakeholders. You might reflect progress on goals on a bulletin board. You should not miss a communication opportunity to reinforce that your top instructional priority is your school improvement plan.
There are a number of ways that you can focus staff on your target some of which have been listed under the categories below:
Focus your staff on the target by
- Using regularly scheduled time with staff
- Identify on the monthly school calendar activities that staff will discuss or complete during staff, team, and department meeting times to advance school improvement goals
- Regularly discuss school improvement efforts and progress at these meetings
- Monitor your PA announcements to ensure they promote your priorities and not other things
- Using written communications
- Include in your staff newsletters progress updates on your school improvement goals
- Use back to school paperwork, end of year paperwork, improvement goals and other correspondence to focus on school improvement goals and progress
- Ensure that expectations and priorities given orally to staff are also given to them in a written format for later reference
- Using staff development activities
- Ensure that all staff development activities are aligned to school improvement goals and state standards
- Using the physical environment
- Using recognition activities
- Identify strategies to recognize those activities and staff that support school improvement goals
- Promote teams or departments recognizing/tracking student growth on instructional indicators
- Showcase at staff meetings promising practices in using data to monitor individual student progress or to inform instruction