Scheduling weekly tactical meetings with their administrative team is an effective method for principals to stay in a proactive rather than reactive mode.
During my first principal assignment I rarely had regular scheduled meetings with my assistant principals. It pains me as I remember that my mindset was to start each day doing things I thought were important and carrying out tasks that would help me achieve my campus goals. However since I was not regularly meeting with my assistant principals, I was not involving them in the campus leadership, keeping them engaged in important planning, nor properly preparing them to be future principals. Thankfully they were both so skilled that they eventually became principals, but I could have done so much more for them, the campus, the teachers, and most importantly the students by having regular meetings.
Principals should at least have a weekly formal tactical meeting with their assistant and associate principals. While important for nurturing and strengthening team relationships, these meetings are also essential to ensure alignment and for measuring and monitoring.
A weekly tactical meeting should at least contain the following elements (including five essential measurements) as regular recurring agenda items:
Shared learning and professional development
Each week, the principal should ensure that they are intentionally growing their administrative team through shared learning and professional development. As the year goes on, this activity will be always in danger of being replaced with an urgent task unless this time is protected and valued by the leader. A best practices approach would be to include a good mix of practical and theoretical professional development.
Review of new enrollees and withdrawals
The campus leadership must maintain good records for withdrawals and ensure that someone is monitoring and intervening with potential dropouts. Reviewing lists of new students ensures that any special educational needs for the student will be addressed and that they will have a proper campus orientation. A best practice is to have an intake checklist for new enrollees and withdrawals
Review of students with excessive absences
A great way to build relationships with parents and to communicate that they are partners is through the service provided to absent students. Other benefits of regular absence review include keeping track of students who may be in danger of failing due to missing important classwork and acting in a timely manner for students at risk of losing credit.
Review of classroom student success rates (otherwise known as failure rates)
Check that staff have recorded an appropriate number of grades (if this is part of your campus guidelines). Plan discussions with staff members with low student success rates. Schedule meetings and conversations with staff as necessary for quick interventions with students who are failing multiple classes.
An even better approach to monitoring student success would be to focus on student mastery of objectives and reviewing intervention efforts. Grades may indicate students at risk, but a thorough look at mastery of standards is a more accurate picture of student success.
Review of the weekly events calendar and duty assignments
Planning for campus events, reviewing extracurricular calendars for supervision requirements, and sharing of individual calendars are important weekly tasks. Many of these items can be handled outside of the traditional meeting structure.
Review of planned classroom observations and team meetings
Important classroom observations will not occur unless they are scheduled. It is too easy to replace an important walkthrough with an urgent issue. Without a commitment to schedule walkthroughs the principal is not committed to gathering timely information on teacher effectiveness and student learning. Team data analysis of student performance and curriculum planning meetings are also other good places for administration to be present and participating.
What are some other regular recurring items that should be measured as part of your weekly tactical principal meetings?