Here are some of my reflections on ideas that were presented at the CASS Start Right Conference I attend this past week in Olds, Alberta.
1. Relationships, relationships, relationships – It was interesting to hear over half the presenters say this same phrase. They all stressed the importance of developing and maintaining good relationships. I can see how this goes a long way. I also relate this idea to Covey’s Emotional Bank. When you have a good relationship, you can depend on others to help you.
2. Front Load – It is always easier to have clear expectations and conversations about difficult topics before a crisis takes place. Front loading, in this sense, therefore means to have the difficult conversation in an atmosphere the is calm before the difficult situation makes this impossible.
3. Be visible – Again, an idea that was put forward by multiple presenters. By being visible in the hallways, in the school yard, in the community, at events and in classrooms they suggest an administrator can know the school, build relationships and be aware of the issues that are developing.
4. Know your values – By “your” they refer to both personal and school values. One presenter said that in times of crisis it is most important to go back to your core beliefs and values. This removes some of the emotional component and allows your to make a decision that you are less likely to regret later.
5. Plan – If you don’t plan something, you probably won’t do it. What you choose to do is how you show what you think is important. This was the message presented a few times. I see this as another way to ensure that we are working in Covey’s Quadrant 2. Plan to do what is important when you are not forced to do it.
6. Follow-up – If you start something, finish it. Close the loops that you open. This will show that you care and that you mean the things you say. One presenter said: “The certainty of consequences is more important than the severity of consequences.” No empty threats. If you say you will do something, do it.
There were so many good ideas and presenters that I came away feeling a little overloaded (especially right after the end of the school year), but I know that this conference will be valuable as I move into my first year in administration. Thanks to all the presenters. For more info on this conference and to see the presenters please visit the website at http://www.cass.ab.ca/start_right_program_