The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

My goals this week

As the school year begins to move from “we’re just getting started” to “it’s been a few weeks,” I’m reminded of two ideas. The first is the call for patience I wrote about at this time last year. Overall, I focus my attention on having a good week, 1 week at a time, to have a successful school year. The second idea comes from one of my favorite books, Influence by Robert Cialdini. The third principle of the book is “commitment and consistency.” Cialdini explains people are more likely to follow through with something if they state it publicly. 

With these ideas in mind, this week (and every week for the next 38 work weeks), my goals are to:

1. Be prepared.

I make time each day to make certain I am ready for whatever is coming. Meetings, events, logistics. In the  quest  to be prepared, I’m going to focus my attention on  getting the right people in the room for whatever the conversation that needs to take place and to ask good questions. My goal is not to be the smartest person in the room, it is to ask the best questions. The best questions don’t seek to “get” or “catch” people. The best questions seek get more voices in the room, to inform, elicit expertise, and to grow the conversation around whatever topic is on the table. Reviewing agendas, going over documents, and spending time thinking about what is coming up will help me to be prepared with information and to ask questions.

2. Be right at the end of the meeeting, not at the start.

We all walk into meetings with preconceptions and notions of what we want to see happen. As a leader, bringing a specific outcome with you to a meeting can move you from democratic to autocratic. Meetings become more about confirming your thinking and less about getting ideas on the table that can move your organization forward. You can miss creative ideas, and fail to develop people when your meetings become more about proving you right than thinking about an issue. I’m going to walk in to every meeting without a presumed answer, but only with the goal of listening to others and arriving at the best decision that aligns with the mission and vision of our school.  

These two goals will require me to listen more.

I know what I think, what I need to know are the thoughts of everyone else in the room. There is also a value in letting others talk, it allows them to reflect on an issue and helps them grow. At the end of the day, I’m going to spend a few minutes reflecting on how much I talked and how much I listened. 

A great school year is the product of 40 good weeks, 1 week at a time.

Go win this week.

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