Leadership Goal Setting for School Improvement
June 12th, 2018
The most successful leaders know that the quest for improvement never ends. When it comes to the critical role of educating youth and preparing them to become the next generation of innovators, protectors, and community stewards, school districts need leaders who are not just visionaries, but who know how to continually raise standards, implement changes, and inspire changed behavior to achieve continuous success. The summer is the perfect time to reflect back on the previous school years’ achievements and strategize ways to further motivate the highest levels of leadership excellence among principals, administrators, and other leadership staff. To succeed, understand how to establish attainable goals and put actionable achievement plans in place to take your ideas from vision to reality.
A Leader’s Responsibilities in Change Management
To make systemic improvements in processes and staff behaviors that will achieve results, the primary responsibilities of a leader are as follows:
- Set small team and full entity objectives, often through collaborative discussions and input from a variety of impacted sources.
- Define what success will look like when you have achieved established goals.
- Establish an action plan comprised of measurable steps, delegate tasks to appropriate team members, and regularly check in on progress, providing guidance and assistance when necessary.
- Obtain outside assistance and support, when necessary, to enable the team’s success.
- Keep all team members motivated and focused on the final objective by helping them feel valued in the process and understand the importance of achieving established goals.
Keys to Effective Goal Setting
With the aforementioned leadership roles as the foundation for your efforts, take the following steps to set attainable goals for your next planning cycle:
- Focus on the three pillars of successful goal setting: purpose, people, and process. As you brainstorm forward-thinking objectives, for every possible goal, ask yourself, “What would be the purpose of that objective, who would benefit or be impacted, how could we achieve it?”
- Ensure goals align with your district-wide vision. All your goal-setting and execution efforts should support the underlying vision of your school district. In the broader context, any identified improvements to your administration should support school values and student educational advancement plans. Also, team members will be more motivated to become active members of the engagement and achievement team if they see how established goals help support overarching values.
- Find inspiration in proven techniques. The National Policy Board for Educational Administration (NPBEA) established its Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSEL) to provide proven guidance to help school leaders make modifiable improvements to support enhanced student learning. PSEL guidelines are research-based and inspired by successful districts. Consider finding inspiration and direction from this proven resource.
- Create a culture of high-performance expectations. Administrative leaders will be less engaged in and committed to achievement plans if they perceive there will be a lack of institutional follow-through on goals and objectives. Ensure all team participants know that individual and team success metrics will regularly be monitored and underperforming results will be addressed promptly. Cultivating an expectation for high standards will drive results.
- For personnel-related goals, provide appropriate, individualized support. If the primary area of your goal setting this summer is focused on developing administrators, faculty, and staff to foster high achievement levels in students, ensure each staff member has an individual performance plan with actionable, and measurable objectives. To enable success and motivate ongoing goal commitment, lead continual performance discussions with staff regarding their performance plans and when necessary, give them the guidance and support they need to be successful.
- Obtain school board support. Seek buy-in from school board members. Your school board will be influential in helping you identify and prioritize areas for improvement and ultimately to measure success. Gaining their insights and suggestions at the onset of your planning process will be critical to establishing attainable, impactful goals.
Your Role in Successful Goal-Setting and Achievement
The role of the superintendent in the successful ideation and realization of goal achievement cannot be overemphasized. As the steward of success and the champion of the greater cause, you must never waiver from your focus on the progress of identified goals, even amidst the whirlwind of ongoing expectations, such as standardized testing, hiring and retention, school board initiatives, and student disciplinary responsibilities. To ensure you are best positioned for success follow these best practices:
- Communicate goals internally and externally. This step should include communications to parents, teachers, and students. Not only does such transparency help hold all your administrative leaders accountable, but it will also encourage further excitement and buy-in and help all involved remain committed to the cause.
- Focus on policies and support services needed for success. It will inherently be your responsibility to ensure your district and staff members have the infrastructure, tools, systems, and support services required to achieve outlined goals. This responsibility will need to be a top priority at the onset of the goal achievement process.
- Implement a systemically aligned professional development program for leaders, including principals and administrators. To achieve the highest expectations, you will need the support of the highest-quality staff members. Continuous performance management predicated on individual goals that are aligned with the district mission and vision will help encourage the highest performance in all areas—especially when it comes to meeting established goals. If necessary, invest in proven professional development training services and monitoring tools for district staff, principals, and other administrative leaders. Such systems will not only help teach staff members how to be successful, but by investing in their personal development, they will, in turn, commit to the district’s vision.
- Identify and cultivate powerful practices. As you work toward your goal, you will begin to identify techniques, processes, and behaviors that generate the most impact and help move the needle toward your ultimate goal. Be sure to share these powerful practices with all leadership staff and faculty and enable them to utilize the same skills for further success.
- Foster leadership support contingencies. To achieve your goals, you will need the support of your principals, who they will need the support of their teachers, who will need the support of administrative staff. Encourage the development of supportive relationships at all levels, emphasizing the benefits of collaboration, communication, transparency, and a shared vision.
- Delegate and trust. You may be the steward of success however you cannot be solely responsible for executing all action steps associated with each goal-related milestone. Delegate the authority for leadership personnel, such as principals, to implement appropriate procedures and process advancements. You principals will know best how to motivate and manage change within the walls of their schools. With regular check-ins and discussions surrounding measurable key metrics, principals will be held to task and remain committed.
- Measure your individual performance. Leaders lead from the front. To refine your leadership skills and demonstrate accountability and commitment to principals, faculty, and staff, commit to your own measurable professional leadership development plan. A web-based performance management solution, such as SuperEval, will allow you to gather feedback from key staff and school board members and establish your personal development goals and achievement criteria
SuperEval, Goal-Setting, and Achievement
Any goals you establish for your school district should support the most critical component of your administration, which is the intellectual, social, and personal development of your students. The very practice of goal-setting is essential for the betterment of your faculty, staff, and students. Regardless if your goals are achieved effortlessly with overwhelming success, or through trial and error that is weighed down with the need to overcome adversity, what is most important is that you keep the success of your students in the forefront of your mental efforts at all times.
Did you know that SuperEval can help keep you, your principals and other administrators on the same page when it comes to setting district aligned goals and objectives? SuperEval allows you to co-create annual improvement priorities with your administrators and school board, ensuring that everyone is working toward the same outcomes.
Discover how SuperEval can help you achieve more by scheduling a demonstration today!