As the excitement builds to the first day of school and I brainstorm ways to being the school year with the new and veteran staff, traces of anxiety sink their tentacles into my stomach. I sleep fitfully waking up in the middle of the night thinking of ways to set the tone. In my first year I made many mistakes presenting at staff meetings. This year I want to do better. The following are three common mistakes principals make at their first staff meeting.
Death by bullet point
As educators we know that the human brain can only take in so much information. As a teacher we prided ourselves on chunking the information and scaffolding so all students could access the material. Somehow as a principal I forgot that and almost wanted to “show off” how much I knew by putting it all in a powerpoint. This is an easy mistake to make because there’s so much to cover. This year I’ll only present the material needed for the first week of school. This will limit the Powerpoint to just a few slides and the most important material wont get lost with stuff that isn’t happening until Thanksgiving!
No clear priorities
This goes hand in hand with too many bullet points. When there was a wealth of information my staff didn’t know what was important and what they could dismiss until a later date. I was unclear in my priorities and I didn’t make it a point to highlight or show in any way what I wanted accomplished within the first few weeks. This year at the first staff meeting I will make sure I only have three or four main points that can be ranked in importance. Not having a clear picture of what’s most important is one of the mistakes principals make at their first staff meeting.
One person show
Doing everything yourself at that first staff meeting, for me, is the hardest one to avoid. You’ve spent the whole summer working on the upcoming year and now it’s time for your vision to become a reality. At my first meeting I wanted to get input from the staff so I was facilitating and writing staff answers down. This added an easy 10-15 minutes to the meeting. I’ve got horrible writing so not only did it take longer, staff was also struggling to read what I had written. Thankfully, a veteran teacher volunteered to be the scribe in the afternoon session and I was wise enough to let her. Although you’ve spent the whole summer planning trying to run the show on your own is another common mistake principals make at that first staff meeting.
This year I hope to avoid these common pitfalls: too many bullet points, lack of clear priorities, and running the meeting by myself. What are some other common mistakes principals make at the first staff meeting? Please share your experience in the comment section below.
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For more short articles and tips that support educational leaders check out my blog at the www.howtobeagreatprincpal.com and order my newest book How To Be A Great Principal: 36 Shared Leadership Success Strategies. If you’re an auditory learner you can download my podcast The Principal Entrepreneur, on itunes and podomatic, new episodes weekly. If you’re interested in sharing your experience as an edleader please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org Finally, I’m part of a community of supportive principals please join our private FB group.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......