Here are 5 principal hacks that every principal or superintendent should use to make their job easier. Here are some more tools to add to your administrative toolbox.
1) Google Calendar: There are two musts that school administrators, principals, and superintendents must do to improve their time management with google calendars. The first is to create a special education calendar that your special education teachers will use to schedule all of their IEP meetings on. For larger districts this will allow the special education department to see all IEP meetings and not double book the school psychologist, social worker, principal, or speech pathologist. It will also allow special education teachers to just schedule the IEP meeting without having to send out emails to 3-5 IEP team members asking what time works best for them. Having this information auto-populate on your principal calendar instead of having to answer and accept meetings will save you time. The second important use of your google calendar is giving your Secretary access to your calendar. Allowing the building secretary to see and schedule appointments for you will also save you much needed time.
2) Voxer App: If you haven't already downloaded the voxer app I recommend you do it now. This walkie talkie app allows you to communicate and leave text messages and voice messages for other important team members within your district. It's instant communication and it speeds up communication. Best part about it is that the messages are retrackable and they can not be subject to freedom of information act. It's a great app that I use to communicate with other principals and superintendents around the state. I can leave a question for my professional colleagues and they get answer me whenever they are available. This is a must use tool to improve your communication and productivity.
3) Google Docs: If you have not switched your principal or superintendent files over to google docs you need to. Having the flexibility to work on a document from your work computer, home office computer, and on your phone has been a game changer for me. I've had many administrative meetings or informal conversations and being able to access all of my googledocs on my phone quickly to reference has increased my productivity. Not only that you can easily share documents and have other members of your administrative team work on your doc at the same time.
4) Scheduling Emails: If other principals and superintendents are like me I do a lot of my work late at night and on the weekends to try and stay ahead of the never ending job. Leading a positive culture in the building I don't want to send my teachers or secretary emails late at night or over the weekends. Just like Facebook if you use a google email address you can schedule your emails to go out on a certain day and time. Make sure you give your staff some space and respect their schedule. Don't email them over the weekend or late at night. If you use the paid feature you can also pause your inbox or select only certain people that can get into your inbox. When I was working on big projects I would pause all my incoming emails except for my main secretary and superintendent. This allowed me to be more productive during the workday.
5) Be Visible: Being active in your building and visible during passing periods and viable in the classrooms is crucial in being a good leader and running a good building. If you are locked up in your office all day you start getting out of touch of what is happening in your building. It might take a lot of your time to get out and to be active but it is certainly time well invested. Anytime that you have meetings outside of your building or if you are gone for most of the day make sure to do a walk through in every classroom at least once in the morning so you are visible and people know you are in the building. Same thing if you have been gone most of the day when you get back to the school make sure to do a quick walk through to ensure that people see you. They say students misbehave when the teacher is absent this is true of the administrator if they know the principal is gone they tend to push the limits more so make sure you are seen and they know you are there even if your not.
Blog written by: Principal Andy Jordan
Andy Jordan, Ed.S.
Andy Jordan is a first generation college graduate who has dedicated his career to improving schools and fighting educational equality. Please follow and comment as we discuss the educational process.