Five Leadership Priorities for the New Year

EVERYBODY is telling you what you need to do this year as you lead your school…

  • Make up fifteen months of learning loss;
  • Get us back to normal;
  • Get the kiddos back into school shape right away;
  • Tend to the mental health, social and emotional, and behavioral needs of your students;
  • Go Fast!;
  • Go Slow!;
  • Remember what we used to do before COVID;
  • Don’t forget what we learned from COVID.

You get the picture. You’ve HEARD from everyone… and as you begin the year, we share some ideas with you for your consideration. Here’s one idea… as you do whatever you decide to do this year, remember that steady progress is ultimately more effective than trying to “catch up” what you think has been missing in the first day, week, or month.

Find your priorities. Help your team understand what they are, why those priorities, and how to effectively focus on them.

Here at Principal Matters! is a suggestion of these five areas for your work this year:

  • Influence;
  • Planning;
  • Climate and Expectations;
  • Partnering with Parents; and
  • Communication.


99.99%. If you spend an hour with each of your teachers every month, they STILL will spend 99.99% of their time with students without you around. Your teachers are working with students in and out of the classroom for seven hours a day, 180 days a year. That’s 1,260 hours for the year. IF you were able to spend an hour every month WITH EACH of your teachers while they work with students… would you feel like you’d been pretty efficient in doing so? Most administrators say ‘yes’. That would add up to.. TEN hours a year. Meaning, your time with your teachers would add up to 0.00794% of the time. Meaning that your teachers are making hundreds of decisions all day, every day. 99.992% of the time. We BETTER be effective in PREPARING teachers and influencing their thoughts and actions, because the success your school depends upon their choices.

That phrase “inspect what you expect”? Not realistic. Influence is more effective than enforcement. How will you influence the thoughts and actions of your teachers this year? Spend your time with them wisely to influence what they do regularly in their classes.


Plan. Brief. Implement. Debrief.

We all discovered how important the events of our school are in the lives of our students and our communities. Let’s make them the best they can be. How? The Planning Cycle. Plan at least a month in advance for what you do at school… then, two weeks before the event, hold a briefing, and when it’s finished, a debrief. Then, keep your records of how you did it so you don’t start over next year.

Climate and Expectations.

Know what all of our teachers and all of our students need this year? Clear expectations of what ‘success’ looks like. What else? A positive environment in which to learn. Not just one of those… both! And… that’s the challenge of leadership– morale and results… attitude and aptitude.. climate and expectations. YOUR job as the leader is maintaining a balance between the two. Want to get it right? Focus on Appreciation, Recognition, AND Accountability. Put them together and you’ve got what works.

Partnering with Parents.

We learned a LOT during the last year and a half. ONE of the things we discovered (or rediscovered) was the importance of PARTNERING with parents in the learning of our students (and their children). This year is going to be busy with reacclimating students to school and working to e academic gaps. Want to do it most effectively? Let’s do it together, with the parents. What does that mean for you as the leader? If you establish a positive mindset about parents and share it with your team, you’ll find them looking at those relationships is a better way.


Your people have dealt with a lot of uncertainty over the past two school years. Uncertainty leads to stress and diminishes performance. You can do something positively to make a difference– make COMMUNICATION a priority and a point of pride. How do you do that? Spend lots of time with your teachers and students in their classrooms and the hallways. Use some of those tools from last year (screencasting, for example) to keep everyone informed, and work hard to be the best LISTENER you’ve been as your people will have lots to say about last year, and about how they’re doing this year.

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