Ensuring a successful entry as an incoming Superintendent
New Superintendents Need A Thoughtful Plan of Entry One of the first items that new superintendents must learn is the importance of proactive communications and active listening. As a superintendent, you are the “communicator in chief,” which more than likely will be unfamiliar territory for a new leader heading an organization. An important step in committing to this new role and ensuring a successful transition into the school district is to create and execute on a very focused and specific entry plans.
Entry plans have been around for a long time as valuable tools for new leaders in both the public and private sectors to demonstrate a desire to come into the organization “listening and learning” rather than coming in as if all problems have been identified and solutions are forthcoming.
Having gotten the job, new superintendents have already done a lot of the homework regarding their new district. The pre-work is essential to crafting an excellent plan. It is also important to identify key leaders in the district who can provide insights and suggestions into the entry plan so it is contextual to that school system and not a carbon copy of another superintendent’s entry plan. Getting early input from the board is also critical as the entry plan may play a key role in the new superintendent’s first-year evaluation.
While entry plans vary, must cover the first 100 days for the new leader. Milestones for progress along this journey should be established, and what is learned by the new superintendent should be publically shared as it will launch a recommitment or new direction for the vision, mission, core beliefs and values of the district.
Some essential aspects to a quality entry plan might include:
· specific focus areas and priorities
· goals that support these priorities
· stakeholder engagement
· critical questions for discussion
· articulated ways to share what is being learned
For a superintendent, it is crucial to get the stakeholder engagement correct. Some elements will be obvious: one-on-one meetings with board members, leadership team, principals, and other district leaders. There should be intentional outreach and discussions with teachers and support staff, parents, students, and community members. Depending on the size and diversity of your school district there will need to be sensitivity and respect to make sure all voices are heard, including those that may have been marginalized in the past. Additionally, be sure to include leaders in the community who may not actually have a recognized title. While meetings with local and state officials should be included, a quality entry plan will make sure stakeholders who have an influential voice and respect within the community are engaged.
A quality strategic plan can set up a new superintendent for success, not just in his or her first year, but for their entire tenure as the leader.
Originally posted on heathmorrisonsuperintendent.org.