This post is written by Dr. LaMarcus Norman. Dr. Norman is the Assistant Professor at Delta State University, Educational Administration and Supervision. Before joining Delta State University, Dr. Norman spent 12 years of service as a public-school administrator and teacher in Mississippi. You can connect with him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every educator knows one of the most important things in a school day is time. It is something we think we have a lot of, but in reality, we can never seem to have enough of it. As a teacher, you walk in the building with ideas and plans for how your lesson will go today, and then it happens. It is that thing that throws your entire day out of whack and places the majority of your plans on hold.
Well, when I became a school administrator my it as a teacher turned into itS. I walk into the building and the first it hits before I step into my office. Shortly after, here comes another one and others throughout the day. For an administrator, dealing with itS has become part of what we do, it is the nature of our profession. However, just as teachers, we also have plans for the day, whether that is teacher observations, meetings with parents, or leading PLCs, they all take our time. To make sure I was effectively leading my school and managing the itS, I developed and utilized several time management systems to become more efficient. I would like to share some of them with you.
8 tips for being a more efficient administrator
Managing Phone Calls
As an assistant principal, I received phone calls, but, the majority of the calls were asking for the head principal. The phone calls did not take much of my day, which allowed me to focus on other things that needed to get done. However, once I became the head principal of a school, the time I spent on phone calls drastically changed as well my other responsibilities of the school.
In the beginning, I would take phone calls if I was in my office or pass them along to my assistant principal. However, when I was not in the office, I would come back to one of those little phone message notes taped to my door. Depending on what was happening at the time, I did not take the message off the door or if I did, it was placed on my desk and got lost in the shuffle of papers. Well, I am sure you know what happened next, that person did not get a return phone call that day and maybe not the next day either. So what did they do? They called back or show up at the school, mad because no one returned their call. To help with this process I DITCHED the paper notes and turned to tech.
Tip 1: Ditch the paper notes
Ditching the paper notes may be hard for your office staff to comprehend, but when you provide them with this new form, they will understand. They may still attempt to revert to the paper notes, but if you show them how to save the Missed Call Form in their bookmarks, they will forget about those paper notes
Create a digital version of your missed call paper form or just use this template. Then share your form with your staff.
Note: There is no need to add a time and date section to your form. Google Form does this for your once the form is submitted.
Tip 2: Turn your response into a Google Sheet.
Following this tip will allow you to better sort and track your calls, but most importantly it will set you up for success with Tip 4.
Tip 3: Set up email notifications the form is complete
Tip 4: Share the Love
As I started to collect the calls in the Sheet, I realized several of the calls may not have needed my attention. Several of the calls needed the counselor, based on the reasons, and some could be solved by my assistant principal. So, I shared the response log with them and set them up to receive notifications.
Tip 5: Create a “Completed By” column
To ensure important calls are returned, add a new column to the Sheet. Name the new column “Completed By”. After every call, the person who returned the phone call should type their last name in this column. This ensures calls are returned and no duplicate calls will be made.
Tip 6: Share the new template with your office staff.
I would hate for you to go through all the trouble of setting this up, only for your office staff to continue sticking those notes on your door or desk. Sharing this with them in a small meeting and making sure they understand why you want them to start using this template will help ensure they start using it. However, I am sure they will need a reminder here and there because they have been so used to using a paper version.
*Pro Tip* Make sure they save it in their Bookmarks
End of the Year (EOY) Checklist
One of the busiest times for an administrator is the end of the school year. There are programs, graduations, and everyone getting ready for the summer. One of the main responsibilities of being an administrator is to make sure you end the year strong but also start the new year off ready to go. For this to happen, there are a series of tasks teachers need to do to ensure a good start for the new year. At my school, there were multiple forms and checklists teachers had to complete which could be checked off by an administrator or another faculty member. To help manage this chaotic time, one of my teachers created a shell of a checklist. I liked her idea so I made some modifications to go along with all the tasks and procedures and sent it out to teachers. This helped tremendously during the checkout process because it allowed me to quickly see who still needed to complete which task and it provided a bit more structure to the end of the year chaos.
Tip 7: Ditch the paper forms (If you can)
I understand some forms cannot and should not become digital or may require an extensive amount of time to flip. However, if you can move some of the EOY forms to digital, I say go for it.
Create a digital checklist template or (use my template below) to use year after year.
Tip 8: Delegate some of the tasks
Sharing is caring, right? Delegating some of the checkoff tasks to other members of your leadership team will help provide you with some free time. This could be, having your grade chairs check off when all of their team has completed a task. It would also be helpful to provide all of your teachers with access to the form, so they can self-manage the form. By the time they meet with you, on their last few days, you can go over the checklist and discuss missing items, next year, and summer PD.
Implementing these systems into my school day provided several benefits. They allowed me to declutter my desk and/or door, provided more time to focus on the immediate needs of my school, and ensured parents were heard when they contacted the school. I hope just as they benefited me, they provide you with some benefits and help you become more efficient.
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