George Lucas Educational Foundation

Challenges Facing Administrators

Challenges Facing Administrators

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Even though we all live and work in different parts of the country or world, it is safe to assume that we face many of the same challenges on a daily basis. I thought it would be beneficial to start a discussion on the various challenges that all of us face and as a group try assist each other in overcoming them. Probably one of the biggest challenges I face has to due with the budget. I have been in my district for 6 years and have not seen a penny increase in that time. Each year I am forced to think outside the box and do more with less for the sake of my students and staff. How am I to integrate technology if I do not have the financial to do so? This is just one of many issue that arise as a result of the budget dilemma (you can also add replacement textbooks, desks, paper, etc. to that list). Any suggestions? Here is a list of some other challenges that I think we all face: -Budget -Hiring/retaining Qualified Staff - Removing tenured teachers - Internet filtering - Condition of facilities - Rising ESL/ELL populations

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Troy Webb's picture
Troy Webb
High School Principal

I am concerned about budgets, but I guess I can say that it is not the largest concern I have. In terms of: "Hiring/retaining Qualified Staff, Removing tenured teachers, Internet filtering, Condition of facilities and, Rising ESL/ELL populations" I am not as worried. I guess I consider most of that stuff already elements in the system. What I am most concerned about is creating quality Professional Learning Communities and integrating the proper Response To Intervention elements into the school. I see these as interconnected and have read material that supports that thinking. I guess the largest concern I would have is making sure I put the right people in place, drive the direction of the PLCs forward, and articulate to my staff the interconnected nature of PLCs and their work in RTI systems.

John Heath's picture

One of the issues I'm sure we all face is time management and exploring ways to find balance between your personal and professional lives. It's hard to be an effective servant of the people when you're not healthy.

Donna Silva-Burnett's picture

After reading the two most current posts, I see that we are all experiencing some of the same issues. What I am most concerned about is that teachers must learn to take the lead and not rely on principals to problem solve all the answers. Secondly, technology is here and we must engage all students with various forms of multimedia to extend their learning capabilities.

Stephenie Tidwell's picture

I agree with most of you. There are certain elements of the system and teachers must learn to take the lead. My concern is making sure that central office understands my need for support as I venture into my fourth year of Professional Learning Communities. My focus this year is "Improving Teaching Practices". I recognize that if teachers are going to take the lead then I may have to help them add some tools to their tool box; specifically as it relates to implementing technology into the lesson.

David Ginsburg's picture
David Ginsburg
Instructional Coach, Leadership Coach, Math Specialist

To Stephanie in particular, but really anyone in an instructional leadership role, I recommend Lucy West's and Jon Saphier's article
How Coaches Can Maximize Student Learning that appeared in the Dec 09/Jan 10 edition of Kappan: And though it's written in the context of a coaching model, I think there are some nuggets in there that transcend that context and speak to admin's role in instructional quality under any scenario.

Kyla R. Johnson-Trammell's picture

I agree with most previously posted items regarding current challenges for administrators. I am an administrator in CA; so, the current fiscal crisis has had a profoundly negative impact on schools, particularly those in urban school districts. How are we to address the myriad of academic and socio-emotional challenges with an increasingly diverse student population?

How have principals engaged in creative problem-solving to obtain resources to meet the broad range of needs in schools with limited fiscal resources?

John Heath's picture

How would you describe the level of student investment in your school? Are avenues for student involvement in making the school a better place working well? Does your SGA or other student representatives actively contribute to the decision making process (via leadership team representation, focus groups, etc.)?

On our campus, students are delegated the responsibility of raising/lowering the flag each day, morning announcements, carrying out the recycling program, and other aspects of daily operations. I'd like to get more ideas on how to engage students in this way.

Stephenie Tidwell's picture


Three years ago we invested in a collegial partnership with Rutgers University DSACS (Developing Safe and Civil Schools) Program. Our focus was to change the entire school culture/philosophy. Through the partnership and hard work we are currently realizing our goal of involving more students in our daily process and acting as a more caring school. A Steering Team (BMBS) came up with our current philosophy "Better Me, Better School". We created an entire commitment and pledge tied to six principles we call our CIRLCE-Community, Integrity, Respect, Leadership, Confidence, and Excellence. There are a series of questions also tied to the CIRCLE that students or teachers can ask to determine if we are functioning under the principles (e.g., How did we work as a COMMUNITY?... To complete the class project, assigned class activity, plan back to school night, etc).

The major focus is that all stakeholders are required to represent the CIRCLE throughout the school day whether it be in an assembly, classroom, teacher lounge, staff meeting, or cafeteria.

We invite our new incoming class to the middle school in the summer. The Better Me Better School staff and the 8th grade peer leaders direct the incoming 7th graders in a series of team building activities, peer-conflict/resolutions classes, and rap sessions to help the new students understand the Better Me, Better School way and understand LMS' expectations. The SGA also works diligently in helping to promote Better Me, Better School through campus beautification and community service projects. Additonally, other students have taken it upon themselves to act as hall monitors, peer leaders in homeroom, section leaders in assemblies, and such.

This is still a work in progress and a major change in the way we formerly did business.

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