Empowering Principals: Navigating End-of-Year Challenges and Cultivating Success

Supporting Principals at the End of the School Year 
Our purpose as area chiefs is to support our principals in all aspects of school leadership, such as building an inclusive, safe campus culture and fostering a strong sense of support for teaching and learning. Most importantly, we want our principals to feel valued and empowered, and we want them to be challenged to grow and achieve their professional goals. Throughout the year, we prioritize spending time on campuses with our principals. This results in a strong professional connection.

Because we regularly spend time with principals, we have an opportunity to become familiar with their distinctive campus dynamics. This knowledge is the basis of the meaningful, personal support we provide. This support model translates to principal efficacy and overall growth of staff and students at each of our schools.

EOY Conversations with Principals 
During the spring semester, we have sustained conversations with principals about high-yield leadership strategies that align with high expectations and school accountability goals. In our role as support staff for principals, we focus on providing targeted experiences, professional development, and opportunities for personal learning. The individualized approach we use strengthens principals’ leadership capacity by helping them reflect, set goals, focus on
restoration, and grow through change.

One of our most important end-of-year tasks is to guide principals in reflecting on the current school year. The support we provide principals during the year can vary, but a strong emphasis on self-reflection can lay the foundation for greater success in the next school year. As the end of the school year approaches, we have targeted conversations with our principals about the personal leadership skills they have exhibited up to that point; we also discuss other components of instructional management and areas of focus that will contribute to school success for the following year. You might say that we are the blinking light in our principals’ blind spot, alerting them to leadership skills that need strengthening, based on our observations and the interactions we have had with them. These end-of-year conversations are not meant to simply point out the need to improve; they are about awareness and collaborating to create a support system that fosters ongoing growth. Simply put, the goal is to strengthen leadership skills so principals can experience increased success as they go forward in their careers.

Setting Goals 
At the end of every school year, it is important to work with our principals as they set goals for the next year. Some of these goals are geared toward professional growth, such as specific leadership skills. They can also be centered on soft skills such as developing relational capacity or building resilience—no doubt one of the most important skills in today’s educational environment. Conversations about the need for self-reflection can also help principals set goals in the area of student and teacher growth such as curriculum management or school culture. Connecting campus leaders’ goals for success and tailoring support systems to their distinctive needs are the pinnacle of our work as supervisors of strong leaders.

Focusing on Restoration 
We believe being a principal is one of the most difficult jobs in public education. As supervisors, we emphasize the importance of taking time during the summer break for both personal and professional restoration. Of course, we encourage our principals to seek out those unique activities that bring them personal, physical, and mental renewal. We also promote activities that will renew and reset the relationships and dynamics within their campus leadership teams. Our intent is not only to support a happy, healthy lifestyle for leaders throughout the school year, but to support a balance between home and school. We believe focusing on balance and restoration will have a decidedly positive effect on school culture.

Growing through Change 
Educators know one constant in education is change. Every summer brings significant changes, including staffing, district and campus leadership changes, policy changes, and more. We believe an important part of leadership is walking towards change with positivity and courage, accepting and embracing the responsibility of leading change, and being resilient in the face of obstacles. We support school leaders through change by modeling timely, accurate communication, showing we understand the effects of change, helping manage the anxiety that accompanies change, and providing opportunities for questions and input along the way. Patience and trust are key components in adjusting to change, and we seek to provide those to our principals.

Campus leaders who embrace change discover who they really are as leaders. This is true because change takes them out of their comfort zones and into the zone of learning and growth. Leaders who can successfully manage change can propel their organization forward and accelerate their professional growth. A leader’s response to change does not go unnoticed by school stakeholders. That response can provide a sense of security through change, or it can amplify anxiety. Our responsibility as supervisors of campus leaders is to determine levels of support for each principal and to help him or her navigate change.

As area chiefs of school leadership, our mission is to provide unwavering support to our principals, especially as they navigate the complexities of the end of the school year. We believe in cultivating inclusive, safe campus cultures while empowering principals to cultivate environments that are conducive to teaching and learning. Our primary goal is to ensure our principals feel valued, empowered, and challenged to grow both personally and professionally. We recognize the challenges inherent in the principalship role, and we emphasize the importance of restoration, encouraging principals to prioritize personal and professional rejuvenation during the summer months. Additionally, we help campus leaders embrace change with courage and resilience, modeling effective communication, understanding, and patience throughout the process. In essence, our collaborative efforts with principals at the end of the school year lay the foundation for continued success in the subsequent academic year. We provide targeted support by cultivating reflection, setting meaningful goals, promoting restoration, and navigating change. We strive to empower our principals to lead with confidence and effectiveness, ultimately fostering thriving school communities.

Longtime TEPSA members Alisha Crumley and Dr. Suzy Meyer are Area Chiefs of School Leadership in Grand Prairie ISD. Together, they bring an impressive 61 years of combined service to Texas public schools, with 51 of those years dedicated specifically to roles as campus administrators.

The Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association (TEPSA), whose hallmark is educational leaders learning with and from each other, has served Texas PK-8 school leaders since 1917. Member owned and member governed, TEPSA has more than 6000 members who direct the activities of 3 million PK-8 school children. TEPSA is an affiliate of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

© Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association

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