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While the new school year has started already in many districts, others are in their final weeks of planning.  From classroom organization to support and training, the focus is primarily on teachers and student success. We know effective school leadership impacts both teacher efficacy and student achievement, but how often do we talk about the needs of principals this time of year?

Principals are often the unsung heroes in schools.  The buck stops with you as you juggle everything from discipline issues to parent complaints to problem-solving building maintenance challenges.  But consider this, principals are more than just buck-stoppers (that’s a thing, right?). You are visionaries, culture designers, and master implementers. Your role is to lead your school through the cycle of the year and to do it with grace and positivity.

Three tips to start the new year successfully

Take time for you at least once a day

We know this is hard and might even make you laugh. Carving out 30 minutes per day to focus on you will reduce stress and keep you happier and more energized.  Whether it is a brisk walk, some meditation or a yoga class, this time that is focused on you will yield great results.

Psychotherapist Amy Morin offers several reasons to give yourself this time alone each day.  She shares them in this 2017 Forbes article, 7 Science-Backed Reasons You Should Spend More Time Alone. From building mental strength to increasing productivity, there are many benefits to taking that “me time” each day.  It benefits you and your school community. We all know exercise has a ton of physical and emotional benefits when added to our regular schedule. A Harvard Business Review article, written by Ron Friedman, offers yet another important reason to fit this time into your day.  It positively impacts the way we think. In Regular Exercise Is Part of Your Job, Mr. Friedman offers sound reasons for adding exercise into our schedule.  Reasons that include enhanced creativity and a sharper memory. In addition, he describes ways to actually fit exercise into our cramped and often overwhelming daily schedules. And isn’t that often the real obstacle in making this lifestyle change?

Be a master delegator

Delegation can be challenging. This 2015 BBC article, Why you can’t delegate – and how to fix it, by Bryan Borzykowski, offers important insight into why some people struggle with delegation.  He offers some key ideas on the why and how behind fixing this challenge. Delegation is an important skill for any leader, as it allows for improved teamwork, systemic productivity and improved mental stamina for the delegator. After all, a leader needs time to lead, and delegation offers a pathway to increasing time spent on vision and overall leadership.

Remember that humor is a good thing

At the end of the day, we are all happier when we have opportunities to smile and laugh. Work should be fun. Sure, there are very serious matters that embed themselves into principals’ work that are far from funny. However, there are also situations throughout the day that should add a smile and a laugh, so let yourself have fun at work. Of course, as a leader, your humor needs to be appropriate for the workplace, so check out this Harvard Business review article, Leading with Humor, by Alison Beard, for ideas on how to lead your team with effective (and appropriate) humor.

It’s a new school year, and principals are here to lead us through the good, the bad and the ugly. Our school leaders need support and care, so set a goal of taking care of you this school year. Your faculty will thank you for it, and you will thank yourself too!

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