Four Tips for New Division Heads

Vol. 15 No. 9

academicleadership eletter Vol16 No9 fourtips

May is probably a busy time in your school as end-of-year activities ramp up, students prepare for summer break, and the academic leaders work together to solidify plans and processes for the next school year.

Part of those plans may include hiring new Division Heads or other academic leaders to join your team. It’s then up to you and your fellow administrators to help these new faces transition into your culture, learn and uphold your school’s mission, and become part of your community.

Below are a few tips you can share with your new arrivals. Feel free to send this article to their inbox or encourage them to sign up for The Source.

Get a true sense of our community by walking around. Feel free to learn as much as you can about our students, faculty, staff, and parents. Leave your office and attend assemblies, spend lunchtime in the cafeteria, or work with teachers to attend specific classes or events. This is the best way to gain a sense of what’s going on and to understand the challenges different school groups face.

Keep a close eye on what’s going on around you. As you observe your new school in action, take a close look at everything that’s happening. Watch for two specific aspects. First, look for positive actions that can be publicly praised to reinforce the good things that teachers and students do. Second, take note of specific challenges or areas that require improvement. These situations can be used quietly to instruct and guide individuals, or encourage better practices.

Use your listening skills to understand what others need. Joining a new school means you have a fresh perspective and the ability to zero in on different issues. Actively listen when speaking with teachers and ask questions to ensure you understand their questions and concerns. This helps build credibility and makes it easier to implement new ideas or change policies since teachers will know you understand their issues.

Ask questions instead of giving orders. Giving orders too soon in a new position without building trust can cause discontent and unhappiness among faculty and staff. Instead, ask teachers questions to create a dialogue where they can share their ideas and opinions. You can often shape the outcome—or at least the direction—of a situation simply by asking questions that expand both parties’ understandings. This often leads to the solution to an issue.

It can be difficult to start a new position. There are many initiatives to launch, fires to put out, and tasks to take on. Help your new hires to start their time at your school on the right foot.

Would you add anything to our list? Let us know in a comment below.

Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Academic Leadership Vol. 13 No. 1 Advice for New Division Heads

Additional ISM resources for Gold members:
I&P Vol. 39 No. 5 The Division Head: A New Reality
Vol. 37 No. 7 The Division Head’s Role as Liaison Between the School Head and the Faculty

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