Here at ISM, a lot of our theory and best-practice advice comes from our focus on a school’s mission. We consider the school’s mission a statement of why the institution exists, a “filter” through which every decision must be run. Everything from scheduling to facility expansion to financial aid comes from how a school interprets its mission.
But many organizations have a “vision,” in addition to its mission. When a school already has its mission—its core focus and primary compass pointing the community toward the “ideal” learning environment—a vision feels superfluous, at least initially. Done correctly, however, a school’s vision articulates how a school will fulfill its root mission, making it an interesting (albeit optional) part of the school’s strategic plan and marketing strategy.
Leaders often possess a raw, natural charisma and energy, being the centers around whom others naturally congregate. But, there are distinct qualities which conscientious leaders—particularly academic leaders—actively cultivate to better both themselves and those around them. These people are the ones for which you should watch as you enter this year’s hiring and promotion season.
The midyear doldrums will strike your school in the post-holiday haze, dragging at the school community as everyone gets back into the regular schedule. That’s not to mention the temporary onset of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), triggered by the waning daylight hours and plunging temperatures of winter. Re-inspire your students, teachers, and fellow administrators through these winter blues busters!
Your school’s newsletter is a powerful internal marketing tool, in addition to being an ongoing source of vital information for the school community. As such, you can work to guide casual conversations through your “Head’s Column”—the portion of your school’s newsletter in which you can talk as School Head about important topics that directly impact the school. Writing such a column on a monthly (or even bimonthly) basis can feel daunting, but take a deep breath. We have three things you can do that will immediately improve the column—and your community's response to it.
Any place that parents gather is a place where gossip and information spreads like wildfire—like your school’s parking lot during drop-off and pick-up periods. While waiting for their children, parents like to talk about what’s going on in their lives, which often includes their perspectives on school life. Such conversations should be expected, monitored, and maintained as a microcosm of your school’s broader marketing effort.
As School Head, you’re in a unique position to discover which way the wind blows early—and to communicate in ways to change the direction of the conversation.
Last month, we talked about the benefits of having monthly “Head talks,” during which you’d make yourself available to chat with parents and families in an informal setting. We still believe they’re a great tool for building rapport with families and community stakeholders. There are, however, some problems that may arise in such a program, should you not take care.
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