Thursday, April 23, 2015

What Campus Leaders owe Schools if They're Leaving

I have been very fortunate to have some awesome leadership experiences in different schools, and when I made the decision to leave for a new job, the thought that I obsessed over the most was how I could set the next leader up for success.  The reason for that obsession was simple.  I cared about the kids and their future in the following years, so I didn't want to leave them hanging.  Furthermore, I knew that the teachers deserved as much continuity as possible from my leadership style to the next leader's style, and my information could help the new leader get a strong understanding of the campus, the culture and where to begin his/her chapter.

So Here's the Challenge.
No matter if you are leaving on good terms or if you are bitter about being let go, you owe it to the students and staff to set them up for success next year.  Your last act of leadership should ultimately move your campus forward, and to make that happen here are some things that you must do to set the kids and teachers up for success next year.

Leaders should leave behind:

  • Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment plans with
    • Last year's assessment calendar
    • Access to lesson plans and how what you expected from teachers,
    • Information about instructional initiatives
    • Technology integration plan
    • Narrative of how teachers and leaders worked within the CIA framework.
    • Ideas for how you would improve things if you were staying.
  • Intervention System detailing:
    • All of the interventions offered at the school,
    • How students and teachers could access interventions at each tier,
    • How frequently you met with teachers to discuss kids (include agenda),
    • What worked well in the system,
    • What improvements you planned on making.
  • Master Schedule including:
    • Times for staff collaboration
    • Courses that shouldn't be changed (include your reason)
    • Scheduling problems from previous year
    • Changes you would make if you were staying
    • All of the special schedules: early release days, pep rallies, testing days, crazy days.
  • Your expectations (new leaders deserve to know what has been previously expected so they can adapt their leadership to the current system as much as possible.)
  • Your viewpoint on the school's culture:
    • What is great about the culture
    • What is missing in the culture
    • Your plans for improvement if you were staying.
  • Access to the school Facebook, Twitter and social media accounts.
  • Access to school blog,
  • Access to Google Drive or Dropbox documents
  • Student Handbook (with suggestions for changes)
  • Personnel file with possible vacancies or changes
  • Leadership team with:
    • Names and positions of leaders,
    • Their general responsibilities,
    • Their strengths and areas for growth,
    • How you empowered the leadership team,
    • How you planned to better utilize them next year.
  • Staff directory with names, contact numbers, and positions

The reason that it is essential to provide all of this information is not so the new leader will use it all. The information is there to give the leader the clearest picture of how the school operates from the leader's role.  In essence, the information above serves as a launchpad for the new leader, and failure to provide a transition plan to the new leader is ethically irresponsible.

A Leader's Legacy
A legacy is not based on what was accomplished under your tenure; it is based on what remains long after you're gone.  But to be completely honest, I've never thought about my legacy.  I have been truly interested in helping kids in every way possible and that includes when I'm no longer there. If you want your leadership to have a lasting impact and truly be successful, then build strong systems.  Constantly revise them and improve them, and most importantly empower your staff to sustain them.  Ultimately this is what will help the new leader transition into the school.  If the system is strong and effective, a new leader will recognize that quickly and adapt his leadership to the system so that he can begin to move a school's system forward.

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