10 Decision-Making Tips for School Leaders

October 19, 2021

By Danielle Miller

The uncertainty of recent years has presented difficult decision-making opportunities for school leaders. Teachers, students, parents, and the entire school community are frequently impacted by these decisions. How can I make the best decision in the most challenging of situations? It is normal to feel overwhelmed by this, but it is critical to remember your school’s mission and values in the face of decision-making. These 10 decision-making tips for school leaders can help tackle tough decisions this school year.

1. Establish clear goals. However, know that flexibility and backup plans are key. 

Create shared goals among your teachers and staff to start the school year. Clear goals give us clarity of thinking, leading to greater wisdom in how to best use one’s time to pursue clear goals. However, with the uncertainty that remains in the air this school year, it is essential to be flexible and have a backup plan. Everything is subject to change, and no plan should be set in stone. 

2. Listen to your teachers, students, and parents. They know best.

Do not make the mistake of assuming that your solution is always the best. Take the time to listen to your instructors, students, and parents, as they are often more knowledgeable about the issues that arise in the classroom than you are.

3. Send out survey questions to the entire school community regularly to better understand the needs of parents, students, and instructors.

According to EdWeek, “During the pandemic, some principals have used Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, or their own online survey platforms to get a better read on the needs of students, parents, and staff members” (Bushweller and Prothero). This allows school leaders to see what the school community believes is going well in the classroom and what needs improvement.

4. Concentrate on high-priority challenges such as curriculum and staffing. 

Things will look and feel different this year than in prior years as the school year begins and many instructors and students return to the classroom for the first time since March 2020. Students are falling behind in class, and teacher shortages are a challenge at every school across the nation. Understand and concentrate on where teachers and kids have the most needs.

5. Always be prepared for unexpected situations to arise.

Be prepared for the unexpected. It is crucial to be aware that unexpected events can occur, such as students switching to online learning, outbreaks, and so on. In order to keep everyone safe, quick, informed decision-making is critical.

6. Accept guidance and feedback from others.

In the current decision-making environment, no one is going to have a perfectly correct answer. For example, many school leaders face the challenge of maintaining curriculum standards while not failing students due to the nature and challenges of online learning. That is why it is crucial to lean on colleagues and student support staff to help make these decisions.

7. Lead by example. 

School administrators are in charge of ensuring that school operations and education are effective: in other words, they are the bottom line. What makes some leaders more capable than others? Model the attributes you want your staff to have. The best method to influence conduct is to lead with your actions rather than your words. True leaders spend as little time as possible in their offices. They spend their days traveling through the corridors, from classroom to classroom, leading by their actions. They regard themselves first and foremost as instructional leaders, and they take the initiative in raising student accomplishment. Along the way, they set the tone for classroom behavior and guarantee that children can learn in learning-friendly environments.

8. Make meetings matter.

Do not have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting. Meetings with school leaders and teachers are most effective when focusing on specific needs identified during the school year. When your observations and thoughts are still fresh, planning ahead of time will ensure that every instance staff is out of their classrooms are productive. Ask them what they think they need while you examine your observations of their strengths and weaknesses. Please encourage them to consider not what talent or expertise they wish to gain but what skill or expertise their school requires. Also, think about the professional development you provided your leaders and teachers this year—did it have an impact, and how do you know?

9. Provide feedback to your teachers and community.

The importance of providing instructors with feedback on what is going on in their classroom cannot be overstated. Feedback enables them to determine “How am I doing?” in attaining the learning objectives they have set for their pupils, allowing them to decide “Where to next?” for them. During a learning experience, timely feedback is received and reviewed to educate teachers and observers and enable new learning plans. Principals and supervisors should collaborate with teachers on coaching, reflection, joint investigations, study groups, and problem-solving. 

10. You are going to make mistakes, and that is okay. 

Learning from your failures is the most effective method to develop. You will not always make the best decisions. Accepting responsibility for your actions and learning how to do things better the next time is an important element of the learning process.

Did you know that simulations can assist you with all ten of these decision-making guidelines? SchoolSims provides a risk-free environment through software simulations where participants have an opportunity to fail as they face difficult situations. Simulations help to provide at-bats for real-world situations and help to improve judgment and decision-making skills so that when you need them you have them you are prepared for even the most difficult situations. Let us show you how.

Works Cited

Bushweller, Kevin, and Arianna Prothero. “Is Your Head Spinning? 7 Decision Making Tips for Principals.” Education Week, 16 Aug. 2021, www.edweek.org/leadership/is-your-head-spinning-7-decisionmaking-tips-for-principals/2021/08. Accessed 23 Sept. 2021.

Lee, Laura. “7 Tips for Effective School Leadership.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, 6 Feb. 2020, www.edutopia.org/article/7-tips-effective-school-leadership. Accessed 23 Sept. 2021.