Do you want to run a school business but you lack skill and experience to grow it? If YES, here is every detail you need to run a school business successfully. We all remember back in school where as kids we always thought that the teachers were not handling things right; how there were too stern, not creative enough, boring etc.
Growing up, we sometimes look back and realize how childish these assumptions were; and for the students that turned out to become teachers or school administrators themselves, they now get to discover firsthand how difficult managing a school is.
Running a successful school is indeed a herculean task because it has to deal with managing human beings and their different temperaments. You always have to keep the balance so that things don’t get out of hand one way or the other.
You also have to know that if your students are not successful, then your school is not successful; studies have proved this. So, as a school leader or administrator, you should not merely focus on administrative success, but also on academic success.
You should endeavor to strike a balance between the two because one thumping the other would mean failure for you. In this article, we would provide practical tips on how to maximize your efficiency and effectiveness as a school leader, and create a smooth, successful educational community.
50 Powerful Tips for Running a School Successfully
Get your priorities straight
When running a school, the school administrator should be able to prioritize activities that go on in the school. School management involves multiple chores that one may likely get carried away by minor issues, when there a weightier issues seeking attention.
To ensure that your school is run successfully, you have to create a list of goals that you plan to achieve during the school day, month or year, and take a detailed look at how you spend your time each day.
Allow yourself set times during the day to close your door and focus on what you need to get done to help your school succeed. Limiting your access may feel like a step away from the students and teachers you serve, but by prioritizing your leadership duties, you will ultimately help your school become more efficient.
Take time to organize yourself
It is very easy to become disorganized when carrying a huge responsibility, especially if organization has never been your strong forte. But you have to know that to be successful in school administration, you have to run a tidy roost. Professional school leaders need clear, organized systems for maintaining documents and commitments.
At the beginning of the school year, devote some time to setting up effective systems to manage the documents that come across your desk. In addition, decide how you’ll manage your appointments by committing to either a paper calendar or digital alerts.
Schedule your teacher observations, outside meetings, and even blocks of time to attend to email and phone calls. By organizing your time and providing set hours for certain tasks, you’ll be less likely to waste time and will be more present and effective during each of your commitments.
Ditch the use of paper
One way you can effectively keep everything organized is to ditch the use of papers altogether. Reducing or eliminating paper files and forms can free physical space, help you get better organized, better preserve confidential information, and save money on expensive supplies like toner, ink, and copy machine repair.
By shifting to a more digital approach, you can also help your teachers remove clutter in their classrooms and invite more flexibility into meetings.
Make feedback a priority
While running a school, it is quite pertinent to always respond to enquiries be it from parents or the teachers. You should in fact make time for this. You should always complete feedback forms, and always schedule a follow-up session to review your feedback with the teachers and allow time for processing and reflection.
Without concrete, actionable feedback, you won’t make the most of this important teacher development tool, so take the time to conduct your observations so that they leave the teacher with specific, productive next steps on how to improve class instruction.
Always maintain a positive attitude
While running a school, a lot of things that happen in a typical day can make you question your capabilities, but this is where you need to crank up that positive attitude and believe that things would turn out right in the end; and they often do.
It is your responsibility to set the stage for your school just as your teachers set the stage for their classrooms. It is very important that you take this seriously because if a school administration loses his or her positive grind, it would reflect on the teachers, and the students can always perceive this, and they take it for vulnerability.
Don’t get your heckles up on every issue
Like I said before, running a school can be difficult, and an average day can present a lot of issues that can task the nerves, but the key here is to know what is worth blowing steam over and what is not. You have to realize that not every issue needs to be addressed, and not every issue should be given attention. Identify what you stand for and fight for what is important.
Put your students first
A lot of times the government and related agencies churn out rules on how they think a school should be run and how the students should be treated.
Of course they have the overall good of the school and students in mind while doing this, but as a seasoned school administrator, you should not let those laws interfere with the general good of your students. Avoid letting media or political agendas get in the way of deciding what’s best for your students.
The world has gone tech, and you should endeavour to meet up. Avoiding this issue would lead you nowhere and it can even help in bringing your school down in ratings. Learn to apply technology in the necessary areas in the school and teach your teachers to get conversant with them.
Keep the central office informed
Hoarding information may hurt you more than it helps you when it comes to running your school. You have to realize that your teachers and other school administrators can be your allies or your critics depending on how you treat them. If you treat them well, they would stand by you, but if you brush them aside, they would always use you as the butt of their side talk. So be sure to ask for their advice and let them know stories of your journey from time to time.
Always be kind and affectionate
When it comes to your students, faculty, and parents, you should always be kind and affectionate to them. This is because kindness, amongst other things brings out the best in people, and this trait when given to teachers can rub off on the students.
Create a Vision, Write It Down, and Start Implementing It
Don’t put your vision in your drawer and hope for the best. Every decision must be aligned with that vision. The whole organization is watching when you make a decision, so consistency is crucial. Again, you must set an example in this regard.
You should not create a vision and expect others to run with it while you are all laid back. Forget it, it wouldn’t work. You must always be leading in everything while others follow.
Your School Must Be For All Kids all the Time
If your school aims to favor one set of students over the others, and then know that you have set yourself up for failure. Your decisions must endeavour to be in the best interest of all your students without exception.
Hire the right people
You have to know that it is the teachers that stay and interact with the kids more often and as such if you make the wrong choice while hiring, it can have a lot of negative effects on your students. And the damage may have already been done before you and other school administrators get to notice.
Again, hiring teachers who are bitter for one reason or the other can poison the minds of others against you or the students, so you should endeavour to do a lot of research before you hire your school administrators. Asides that, you would not want to put a law offender or a closet pedophile in the midst of your students. Hire people who support your vision, who are bright, and who like kids.
Find Time to rest or think each day
Running a school involves managing people, and the more teachers and students you have, the more reasons you have to worry. You have to ensure that you take time off during the day in your office to just relax and reflect over things.
That time can be used to go over those knotty issues you have been wondering how to handle, or you could just take a cup of coffee and give your brain a rest. Though a lot of school schedules may not allow for this, but for the sake of sanity, you have to provide the time.
Take Responsibility for the Good and the Bad
If the problems in your school or organization lie below you and the solutions lie above you, then you have rendered yourself irrelevant. The genius of school lies within the school. The solutions to problems are almost always right in front of you.
Always endeavor to look for them. As a school administrator, you should never wear the defeatist hat. Know that you are responsible for whatever happens in your school and endeavour to be on top of every situation.
Have very clear expectations
For most school administrators, their expectations can be way off the top, even bothering towards unreasonable. This in itself does not make for a healthy work relationship. Make sure your teachers and other employees have the knowledge, resources, and time to accomplish what you expect.
This shows respect. As much as possible, give people the autonomy to manage their own work, budget, time, and curriculum. Autonomy is the goal, though you still have to inspect.
Endeavor to give a Yes to requests
Yes is one word that can make a lot of difference in relationships. Same also applies while running a school. Your teachers would always come with different requests every day, as much as you can, always respond with it yes. It would make them feel that you are always available for them.
If an outright yes would not be permissible, try to find a way to turn the situation into a win for the parties involved. The only progress you will ever make involves risk, and of course some teachers always have crazy ideas, but if you look critically at it, you may find a safe landing somewhere that would suit everyone.
Don’t always expect a consensus
Twenty percent of people will be against anything and everything you do or say. When you realize this, you have to avoid compromising what really should be done because you want to carry everybody along. If you always try to reach a consensus, you are being led by the 20 percent; and most times, this is never going to happen.
Change needs to be done quickly
If you wait too long to make changes to a school culture, you have already sanctioned mediocre behavior because you’re allowing it. That’s when change is hard, and you begin making bad deals. While it is true that people generally resent change, but if you start it at the right time, and with the right reasons, you would get it over and done quickly enough.
Manage through personality
Teachers are all people and as such have different personalities. You cannot manage them all the same way. Some need you to hear their opinions, some need more reassurance, some need challenges, while some need a smile and a joke. The better you understand them, the more they’ll respond to your needs. So manage in different styles according to who they are and don’t lump them all in one basket.
Set up some performance indicators
Satisfaction is obviously the main indicator that you can use to follow performance. There are others too. Have you thought about recommendation rates, hours lost (through cancellations by the teacher), exam/certification success rates?
Depending on what you want your school to do, there are plenty of quantifiable ways of getting data that can help you and your teachers improve together. Performance indicators can equally help you in knowing how to fashion your rewards.
If indicators are showing increased performance, and quality is rising, then it makes sense that in such a win-win scenario, the teacher should also benefit. If margins are tight, then you can be creative with your incentives: through profit-sharing, bonus on objectives, fun day out, extra paid holiday, etc. The list is endless; you just need to think about what suits your situation.
Learn how to motivate properly
Motivation is more important than money. This may seem paradoxical compared to the last tip, but studies have shown that people don’t perform well due to money alone. So it is your duty as a manager to know how to motivate. One of the prerequisites for motivation is trust.
Do your teachers trust you? Have you spent enough time with them for that to happen? If they trust you, they are more likely to listen to you and be more motivated to do what you ask. Furthermore, it is very important that you know both how to congratulate and reprimand properly. If this is done badly, the consequences can be quite severe.
Let them be creative, but on your terms
Any experienced teacher usually has his or her own set of established set of skills, techniques and material to teach his or her way. This can be counterproductive and difficult to manage if the method in your school is its main selling point.
Teachers should be asked to perform, they’re artists. This means they are creative, and have to be allowed to be so. So why not spend one day a year running a session on creativity? Get a consultant in and find out ways to improve your school together.
It’s a lot of fun, it’s energizing and it will show you how to be a school manager who makes a real effort to hear their views without compromising on your needs.
Teachers, even though they impart learning also love to learn. They understand training and the principles of learning effectively, and so they have huge passion for learning themselves.
There are so many benefits to personal development and technical training that it is surprising how rare it is to find teachers that are cared for in this way. Subjects such as interpersonal communication, learning and teaching techniques, use of materials (off and online) are all good ideas.
Give them specific projects to work on
If there is regular downtime during a slow season or even during holidays, then this is the perfect opportunity to give your teachers some projects that might turn out to be of huge profit to your school. For example, you could ask them to test different online platforms, work on a student welcome package, or research for better materials.
Giving them responsibility doesn’t mean you have to pay them more money, but it does show your faith in their abilities. Again, you have to ensure that these responsibilities are not encroaching into another person’s job description; otherwise they may say you do not trust their competencies anymore.
Take a management and communication course
You may be a great teacher, but that alone would not make you a great school manager or administrator. If you seem to find it quite challenging running your school, you may have to take a course on management and communication. You can take one at any age and at any level of experience.
Studies linking neuroscience, motivation, intelligence, use of emotions and more would be great. Management and leadership now make up 35% of the united states professional training market – a proof of how important such courses have become.
Be available to your staff
In most schools, the school administrators tend to hide out in their offices and only deal with teachers reluctantly when they need to. Some decisions, especially when it came to salaries, are taken without any consultations. This is a very bad policy to maintain.
A good school administrator should always make him or herself available to the teachers and other employees. It is also very important to be sincere and pay attention when you do give them time.
Sit in on their classes
Like I said earlier, teachers are your core service. You should be paying attention to what they are doing. How can you actually manage them if you have no idea of what they are doing? Yes, you can get feedback from other staff, but think of the benefits of sitting in on a couple of classes a year and see how they get on.
The teachers will feel like you’re really interested and hopefully more well-meaning towards you when it comes to talking about tricky subjects. You should not frown the whole time when you see things you don’t like, rather use it as an opportunity to give genuine, useful feedback and really find out what’s happening.
Keep yourself up-to date with all the new tools and techniques that are being implemented in the education industry. Regularly train your staff and teachers to keep them in touch with updates in the syllabus and the teaching methods. Arrange for all the modernized equipment and appraise your staff with its execution and functioning.
Networking opportunities for you and your staff are endless, so keep making efforts to keep in touch with all the regular updates.
Create a ‘Can Do’ Culture
‘Can do’ culture has to do with the attitude of positivity that permeates your school community which come as a result of engaging people that are a good fit right from the beginning; people that you know are competent to do the job and are highly self-motivated; people that know their jobs and are excited about it. These set of people will create a good positive culture that will result in high productivity and success in your school.
Learn to communicate effectively
To run a successful school, the art of good communication is one that everyone in the school system must master and the school proprietor must take the lead. Many problems are created within a lot of schools as a result of poor or no communication at all.
As such, a school that would be successful must communicate to staff at all levels. In such schools, the lowest level staff will be just conversant with the school’s mission, its services, culture etc., as the most senior staff.
Success is not a one-off thing. Successful businesses remain successful because they continuously cultivate for success and as a result stay successful.
Continuous cultivation therefore is the continuous and consistency polishing and refining of the factors that brought success in the first place, through the continuous education of the school owner, the management team and the entire workforce in new and improved ways of doing school business in line with current realities of this age of internet of things.
Digitize your archiving system
One major problem faced by many schools using traditional methods is student archiving. In spite of having multiple computers at the school premises, some admins still have to face many confusing scenarios whenever data gets flooded.
When the information system is weak and the amount of information starts to get out of hands, it becomes difficult for a school to keep track of every little detail such as student bio, academic records, fines, discounts etc. In situations like these, there is a greater chance of data loss.
Digitizing the entire archiving system will limit the chances of such inconveniences. All important information can be just a click away from the admin.
Utilize an online school administration system
The education department of any school is always in a constant threat especially when final exams are closer. Sometimes exams get stolen or some students are not marked fairly due to hundreds of exams piled up on the desk of just one teacher.
In order to ease the burden a little, the online school administration system can be used for automatic calculation and report preparation. This way some of the burden could be shoved off from the shoulders of the teachers resulting in fair student marking.
Support your Teachers
Your schools will run much smoother if your teachers feel like you have their back when they send you a discipline referral. Establishing trust with your teachers enables better communication so that you can provide some constructive criticism with a teacher if it becomes necessary.
The truth is that some teachers abuse the discipline process by sending every student who slightly misbehaves to the office. While these teachers can be frustrating to deal with, you should still back them to some degree.
You never want a student to feel like they can play the teacher against you or vice versa. If a situation occurs where you believe a teacher is sending too many referrals, then fall back on the relationship you have with them, explain the pattern you are seeing, and go back over the plan that teachers are expected to follow.
Be Consistent and Fair
As an administrator, you should not expect every student, parent, or teacher to like you. You are in a position where it is virtually impossible not to ruffle feathers. The key is earning respect. Respect will go a long way in helping you handle issues in the school.
A lot of respect will be earned if you can prove to be both consistent and fair in your discipline decisions. For example, if a student commits a particular discipline infraction and you give out a punishment, then it should be handled similarly when another student commits a similar offense.
The exception to this is if the student has had multiple infractions or is a consistent discipline problem, then you may have to up the consequences accordingly.
The single most important thing to do during a discipline process is to document issues. Documentation should include information such as the student name, reason for referral, time of day, teacher’s name that is referring, location, what actions were taken.
Documenting has several benefits. The documentation process provides protection for you and the teachers involved should a particular discipline case ever render legal action. By documenting every discipline case that you see, you can see patterns that form in the discipline process.
Some of these patterns include; which students have been referred the most, which teachers refer the most students, and what time of day the majority of discipline referrals occur? etc. With this information, you make changes and adjustments to try and correct problems the data shows you.
Know your District Policies and Pertinent State Laws
Make sure you always follow your school district’s policies and procedures. Never act outside of these guidelines that are set for you. They are there to protect you, and if you don’t adhere to them, you could lose your job and face legal action.
Always check pertinent state laws especially in cases involving issues such as suspension or search and seizure. If you ever run into something you’re not quite sure about, you should take the time to talk to another administrator or contact your district’s attorney. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Be Calm, but Be Stern
An advantage of being a school administrator is that when a student is sent to you on a discipline referral, you are generally in a calm frame of mind. Teachers sometimes make rash decisions because the student has provoked them in some way and sending them to the office allows a third party to deal with the situation.
Sometimes this is necessary especially when a teacher recognizes that they may be too emotionally vested when dealing with a particular student. Sometimes a student needs time to calm down as well. It is equally important that you are stern.
Let them know that you are in charge and that it is your job to discipline them if they make a mistake. As an administrator, you never want a reputation of being too soft. You want to be approachable, so don’t be too hard-nosed. Be calm, but stern and your students will respect you as a disciplinarian.
Establish a Code of Conduct
At the beginning of each year, students and teachers are supplied with a revised institutional code. In it, you will find the district’s policies for student behavior and discipline. Using this as a guide, prepare a behavioral code of conduct that can be discussed and posted in the classrooms.
This exercise will even benefit a classroom of younger students who have not yet learned to read if you ‘translate’ each rule into simple, easy to remember words, and recite them together. Be prepared to answer any questions as well as discuss why each guideline is important.
Don’t change anything the first year
This tip is very helpful for school administrators especially those that just resumed newly to a particular school. You have to use the first year to focus on learning the environment, and on observing and building relationships. Teachers resent change, so make sure that any change you later propose had better be worth it and be acknowledged by most as needed.
Meet with your faculty regularly
A regular meeting with your teachers is quite essential if you want to run your school successfully. These meetings are used to address any grievances, and further enhance the schools effectiveness. Prepare teachers ahead of time about what will be discussed, and be respectful of people’s time. These meetings need not be lengthy, keep them short if possible and stick to the facts.
Never devalue the simple act of thanking your staff for doing a great job. It is a known fact that people are always happy when their little efforts are appreciated. You should start appreciating your teachers for the work they do with the students. A little note of appreciation from time to time would go a long way.
Refer angry parents to speak with the teacher first
This is one way of making your teachers relevant in the school and as well as a way of delegating duties. If a problem is not resolved after talking to the teacher; have them contact you to help improve the situation. You should always be the last mediator and not the first.
Accept that you are not perfect
Of course no one is perfect, and the earlier you start telling yourself this, the better for you. Always realize that you do not have all the answers, and that you also need help with certain things. In the same way, you also have to realize that others are not perfect too. This realization would help you apply better judgment to everything.
Don’t be a workaholic
Being in charge of a school is stressful, even on the best days. There are a thousand and one little details to take care of, coupled with complaint from teachers and students. You should endeavor to give yourself a break every now and then so that you do not overstress yourself. In the same way, encourage your staff to go home to a healthy and balanced life.
Have a vision for your school
You need to have a vision of where your school is heading, or where you want it to head or the reputation you want it to achieve. These are indeed your visions. With a good and well implemented vision, you can make a success out of your school.
Note that you cannot work towards this vision on your own, so you must enlist the teachers and other staff members into the same vision board with you.
Embrace new ideas
One other tip that would help you run your school successfully is to always embrace new and beneficial ideas. If you or one of your teachers discover something new, get everyone involved by learning and exploring together. Do not make it a habit to discard ideas because they are not what you are used to. Endeavor to give each idea a chance to see if it would be a good fit for your school.
Don’t think teachers want you as their friend
Of course as a leader, you may desire to have a friendly relationship with your teachers, but you have to keep in mind that that is not tenable.
Teachers would never see you as a likable lot, at least not all teachers. The teachers only want you to keep the school running properly, so as to lessen their daily problems. Once you are able to achieve this, you will be in their good books, but please try not to expect more.