I’ve just completed my second full week as the new principal of Spring Lake Middle in Cumberland County Schools [my new district]. There is always a lot to digest in a new move like this with learning new people and processes. Interestingly, I’m realizing that while having previous experience as a principal is a plus, it also raises more questions in new situations than provide answers! But this is all in good process! This the great part of the journey – asking good questions and working together on great answers.
I’ve been rereading ‘Leaders of Learning’ from DuFour and Marzano. Recent conversations with SLMS staff members and personal friends prompted me to revisit some key points on supporting collaboration, culture and moving students. I got a great idea from chapter nine of the book. A new principal met her staff in small groups and asked 3 key questions. I implemented this inspired innovation. This was a great opportunity for a new principal to learn staff priorities and it turned out to be a great time for staff to get some insight into the new principal.
The three questions from the book are:
·What makes this a great school?
·What are some important things I should know about SLMS as the new principal?
·What can we do to make this school better?
The four sessions I had with the faculty were great talks. From my pages of notes, I collected key priorities from different groups, points of pride and accomplishment as well as some possible goals for myself. The data I collected from my meetings will go a long way in goal setting and knowing how to proceed with staff and different groups.
I’m going to adapt this process and create some share time for me and my staff later this year. Protecting these share times is going to be a critical part in our collaboration and moving this school and our students forward.
[I’d also like to give a special shout out to my #edfocus PLN for introducing me to this book and hosting the chat as well as Dr. Marzano for joining us on Twitter last year to answer questions directly! Chalk this one up to another PLN experience directly affecting practice!]
Derek, Thanks for the post. I am also a new principal in a new building. This process was brought to my attention by our district administrator. I was given the flexibility during the transition to meet with every staff member for 15-20 minutes and used these questions for every 1 on 1 listening session. It was an excellent way to be introduced to a new staff and building.