David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico suggests four steps for new superintendents to take during their first year.
Superintendents have the significant responsibility of leading a school district successfully. Although exciting, the role comes with an immediate set of expectations from parents, board members, and community leaders. Some may want you to follow in the footsteps of your predecessor. Others will hope you bring new ideas to the table. Regardless, the first year in the role will keep you extremely busy and focused.
Experienced educator, David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico, believes that a successful superintendent should be an excellent listener and firm leader. They must have the ability to make confident, strategic decisions to produce quick and favorable results. Regardless, there are specific steps a new superintendent should take during the first year to be successful, as listed here.
The first step to success is to ask questions. David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico recommends meeting with a variety of people, including board members, cabinet members, principals, teachers, parents, and students. Other informative meetings should be conducted with union reps, the PTA, and various business leaders in the community.
Keep your audience in mind, and remember that parents will write comments and reviews on social media and blogging websites. David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico notes that the more people you talk to, the more trust you will gain as a new superintendent by listening to the concerns of the people you are serving. When people feel valued, they will approve of your leadership more.
Next, find patterns in the information you gather from all the interviews. David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico explains that information can be used to find commonalities, which helps you identify what areas need improvement. You can then begin to prioritize tasks based on the needs you’ve gathered. Sometimes it’s best to revisit conversations to ask follow-up questions that arise.
Once people voice their concerns, they want to know what will be done about them. Superintendents must now use their analysis to create short and long term plans. David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico notes that during those initial conversations, it’s essential not to make promises that cannot be kept. People build up much anticipation when a new superintendent arrives, but plans cannot be rushed if they are to be successful.
Finally, share your analysis and plans with the board and community. David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico explains that in this stage, its critical to be receptive to feedback. Consider this stage a two-way street, where you both explain your ideas and then use the critique of others to make them better. Ask for honest feedback, then identify steps for executing final plans.
Remember, be realistic with your plan, timeline, and implementation strategy. Although this is only the beginning of your journey, it is key to a successful career in your district. David Lougee of Silver City New Mexico notes that changes can be made to plans as situations arise. Don’t be afraid to change your methods, as long as you get to the same end goal.