Mike will approach this presentation as a leader who was hired from outside of the organization.
Scott will approach this presentation as a leader who was hired from within the organization.
There are unique challenges for both of these situations.
Being a school leader regardless of size is one of the most difficult and humbling experiences you will ever have.
We pour our heart and soul into our jobs, work long hours, and are expected to have enough fuel left for own families.
Focus on culture.
Pretty true isn’t it.
Lets have a brief discussion on how we greet kids and adults in our schools.
As school employees we are constantly under the microscope.
What are you biggest successes?
Talk with all staff in groups and individually. Here are some good questions to ask.
Look under rocks for squiggly things.
One on one interviews with all staff or leadership team?
This can be shared if you use Survey Monkey
How will you be more deliberate about improving your climate?
We have developed a plan of events throughout the year to help improve our climate and culture.
Position doesn’t matter.
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. – Simon Sinek
Can we have a positive atmosphere if our adults are at each others throats?
Toxic cultures trickle down to the student level…
How will you leverage social media to provide a positive message?
We didn’t talk much about this, but it is helpful to your growth.
Be active on Social Media
Travis Jordan the supt from Beulah does an excellent job at this. Follow him on Twitter.
I think the most important challenge facing our schools deals with our climate and culture. As the image shows, it doesn’t matter our strategy, if our culture is toxic the greatest ideas and planning in the world won’t matter.
To me culture is the single most important thing a leader can influence.
Teaching is hard and we need to have hard and sometimes uncomfortable conversations if we are going to reach all kids. If we are going to be able to do this, then we need solid relationships that will stand the test of disagreements and the inevitable conversations and actions that are needed to reach all kids.
Reading the Mind in the Eye Test
The smartest teams are outperformed by teams that get along. Give your teams this test and have a conversation about it. It was interesting someone who struggles working with teams had a very low score and couldn’t understand why
Forget the Pecking Order and Start with Why are excellent interviews to help start a conversation on culture.
Focus on the 3 R’s.
I do understand that we cannot put students first if we put teachers last. There is a balance here.
Paying attention, in the present moment, with a calm, focused, and clear mind.
We can’t expect team members to be engaged and feel supported if we ourselves are not fully present.
This includes all meetings. We have to have the ability to push aside what is going to focus on being present with ALL employees.
I think we share many beliefs and values, but when you don’t have a relationship with someone you might be seen as arrogant.
Which leads to gossip and then to dislike – makes it difficult to collaborate.
What does your calendar say about how visible and accessible you are?
Schedule time in classrooms on a regular basis. Be visible and accessible.
As a superintendent I find it much more difficult to develop solid relationships w/ teachers and students than I did as principal. We have to make it a priority.
Everyone take a quick glance at your calendars for the first week of school. What does your calendar indicate? What is your focus? Do your actions align with your talk?
Share Professional Learning Plan example.
All of the research supports this silver bullet, why don’t they see it?
Share our SBG implementation at the secondary level.
This is my library.
I steal any idea I can get my hands on. I am not that smart to think of them on my own.
First impressions new school admistrator 7.31.2018
First Impressions for New
July 31, 2018
Dr. Michael McNeff
If you want to know about the culture of a
school, see how the adults greet kids
and you will learn a lot. – Todd Whitaker
Evaluate your school offices
Do their faces shine bright or do they appear stressed and burdened?
Listen to the words spoken. Is the tone kind and sincere or harsh and tempered?
Are conversations positive?
Are all students welcomed with a sincere and friendly hello? (Even those who may
be there for disciplinary reasons?)
Does the environment present itself in a professional way? Are there student
artifacts that portray a positive message about the school?
Good questions to ask...
What is the culture of our school?
What makes our school different than other schools?
What feelings and emotions are evoked when you think about our school?
What type of school culture do we want?
Think about your school five years from now. What do you hope will be different?
What stories do you need to start telling today to make it happen?
Assessing Climate and Culture
School Culture Rewired:
● School Culture Typology Activity p. 67
● The “Who Owns What?” Survey p. 99
● Exit Surveys
● Listening Tour (Community groups, civic organizations, teachers, support
Compassion is not soft, warm, or fuzzy. It’s hard.
Compassion means giving an employee tough
but appropriate feedback. Compassion means
making difficult decisions for the good of the
organization, even when it negatively impacts
Your culture of your organization will be
defined by the worst behavior you are
willing to tolerate.
- Whitaker and Gruenert
Carry the banner
If the story of your school is being told by
people who don’t have a connection to it,
then you probably need to change your
- Sanfelippo and Sinanis
Develop an Entry Plan
● What are you most proud of?
● What areas would you like to see growth in?
● What are your expectations of me?
Example: Tony Sinanis
Have a conversation
with someone near
you about something
that caught your eye
in the previous slides.
What are the biggest challenges facing
● Standardized Testing
● State and Federal Mandates
● Lack of Funding and Resources
● Teacher Evaluation and Accountability
● Micro-Managing School Boards
● Teacher Turnover/Shortage
● Poor Parenting
● Mental Health Issues
It cannot be the sole job of the leader to
improve the climate and culture - it takes
everyone, every single day, and every
MEETING/GREETING NEW PEOPLE
● SMILE-It makes everyone feel comfortable.
● PROPER HANDSHAKE--Conveys confidence.
● REINFORCE NAMES--Forgetting names is a lack of focus, not some
● SPEAK CLEARLY
● MAKE EYE CONTACT
● BE CONSCIOUS OF YOUR BODY LANGUAGE
● TALK IN TERMS OF THE OTHER PERSON’S INTERESTS--You are not that
interesting to them!
Students are inherently the most
important people entering our school
– Jimmy Casas
Focused vs. Distracted
Aware vs. Autopilot
If we are distracted and on autopilot, we are not
present with our people.
What motivates people are the bonds
and loyalty and trust they develop
between each other. What matters is the
mortar, not just the bricks.
- Margaret Heffernan
Develop Your Network
● Be active in your organization (NDCEL)
● Administrative Team
● Staff Members (Certified and Classified)
● School Board Members
● Community Members
Visible and Accessible
● Being Visible and Accessible are 2 Different Concepts.
● Approachable? Are people comfortable visiting with you?
○ --This is directly connected to the relationships you have
● Are you a good Listener?
● Do you make people feel valued?
● Are you a collaborator?
● Are you genuine, honest, and possess a high level of integrity?
○ Genuine--truly what something is said to be; authentic.
○ Honest--free of deceit and untruthfulness; sincere.
○ Integrity--having strong moral principles.
Your calendar is a good indicator of your focus as a leader.
Everyone take a quick glance at your calendars
for the first few weeks of school.
What is your focus?
Do your actions align with your talk?
Have a conversation
with someone near
you about how you
personally make an
effort to be visible and
Leadership today is about unlearning
management and relearning being
- Hougaard and Carter
Leadership was not meant to be committee of
one, exercised in isolation.
Flatten the organization and allow teachers and support staff
to be involved in the decision making.
● As the leader you will be expected to make decisions.
● Always make defensible decisions.
● Seek input and assistance.
● You can learn something from everyone.
● Admit your mistakes, you are human.
● If you err, err on the side of your employees.
● Work collaboratively.
● Focus decisions on student outcomes.
● Make changes for educational reasons, not just “to change”.
It is amazing what you can accomplish if
you do not care who gets the credit.
-Harry S. Truman