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Building Bridges: The Power of One-on-One Meetings in a New Role as Principal

In this blog post, take a play out of my playbook from each time I have been through the transition as a new leader in a role that will help you to establish yourself as a people-centered leader and give you a strong pulse of people and things in your new environment.

Are you transitioning into a new leadership role? Contemplating one? Have an aspiration for one in the future? We are approaching a mid-point of the school year in a few short weeks and it is a natural transition point where new leaders will enter positions and campuses at a challenging time coming in after a school year is in full swing. Take a play out of my playbook for each time I have been through this transition that will help you to establish yourself as a people-centered leader and give you a strong pulse of people and things in your new environment.

I have been afforded the opportunity to serve as a leader in three districts and four schools over the last decade. As I stepped into my new role as the principal of each school I have reflected over past experiences and how I am going to approach leadership and my start at each campus. As always when in that position, I am eager to establish strong connections with every member of my dedicated staff. Recognizing the value of open communication and fostering a sense of belonging within our school community, I have initiated a series of one-on-one meetings with each staff member each time I have found myself in this position. 

Though my roll out of this has looked different each time, the decision to hold individual meetings stems from a desire to understand the unique perspectives, aspirations, and concerns of every team member. It's about creating an environment where each person feels heard, valued, and empowered to contribute their best to the success of our school.

In these one-on-one sessions, my goal is to go beyond the formalities of day-to-day work and delve into the personal and professional journeys of each staff member. By taking the time to understand their experiences, strengths, and areas of growth, I hope to build a foundation of trust and collaboration that will propel our school community forward.

These meetings are also a platform for staff members to express their thoughts, ideas, and concerns. I believe that a healthy exchange of perspectives will not only enhance communication but also lead to innovative solutions and improvements in our educational practices.

Additionally, these conversations provide a chance to recognize and celebrate the unique talents and achievements of each team member which holds me accountable to do a little bit of digging and know a little bit about the campus and people going into our conversations. Whether it's acknowledging a successful project, highlighting a personal accomplishment, or simply expressing gratitude for their dedication, these moments of recognition contribute to a positive and motivating work environment.

I take the time to establish some key questions to help drive the narrative so that I can get to know staff on both that personal and professional level but also so that I can gather useful information and data to help me begin to get a pulse on the campus. I ask questions such as:

  1. What do you want or need in a leader?

  2. What is at least one thing that you love about our school and never want to see it change?

  3. What do you wish looked different or could use some TLC on our campus?

  4. What questions do you have for me?

The hope is also that one-on-one meetings are not a one-time event but rather the beginning of an ongoing dialogue. I am committed to maintaining open lines of communication throughout my tenure, ensuring that every staff member feels supported and equipped to excel in their roles.

This is so valuable because as my team and I embark on the journey together, I am always excited about the potential for positive change and growth within the school. By fostering strong connections through these individual meetings, it helps me to ensure confidence that we will build a collaborative and thriving community that benefits both my staff and, most importantly, our students. Together, is the only way you will create an environment where everyone is inspired to learn, grow, and achieve their fullest potential.

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