Today’s post is guest authored by Latrese T. Mathis, Principal of John Hay Community Academy.
Time is always a challenge for principals. And effectively delegating important tasks to your team can be even more challenging as a new principal at a school. That’s why using the SAM process with the National SAM Innovation Project (NSIP) track for SDP 2016 has been so helpful for my development as a leader, especially in my first two years at John Hay Community Academy, a Level 2+ school in the Austin neighborhood.
In the 2015-16 school year – my first year as a principal – my Network Chief introduced me to the SAMs process. S/he did so because, as a new principal, I needed to build trust with my team and allow someone to help me reach my fullest potential.
The SAMs process includes three main features. First, TimeTrack calendar helps me organize my day and collects data about how I, as the leader of my school, am allocating my time. This calendar can create reports that provide clear data on how I’m spending my time.
The process helps me think about every day strategically. In the morning, I sit down with my calendar and outline the priorities for the day. I want to make sure I am intentional about how I’m spending my day.
The second component is a template to develop a First Responder system to provide a structure for who will respond to different scenarios. I have my team help me tackle some of the day-to-day challenges that pop up to ensure I’m staying focused on my role as an instructional leader. I want to make sure I’m spending my time in classrooms, working with teachers as they improve their practice.
This aspect has been especially important because I do not have an assistant principal at Hay Elementary. As a result, I have to continue to do more with less. I have learned to empower my team. For example, when a question about curriculum comes up, I have developed the partnership and trust with my Instructional Leadership Team to tackle the question first. This frees me us to work more directly with teachers in their classrooms and give regular feedback.
The third and final piece of the SAMs process is regular coaching from NSIP to help me think strategically about my work. Just like leaders in all industries, principals benefit from coaching and continuous leadership training.
Building on the success of my first year, I took this work a step further this school year: I am using the system to help me build relationship with teachers, my staff and the community of parents. The SAMs process has been key to my development as a leader, and I encourage other principals to take advantage of this opportunity.