So, your PLN is raving about a new product or program that has made teaching and learning better than ever and you want to bring this to your classroom too. Since you work for a school though, it’s not 100% up to you. You need buy in and support from your principal to allow you to move forward. That’s not always easy, unless you know the following secrets to success shared by former @NYCSchools Principal Jason Levy (@Levy_Jason), who now advises principals and superintendents on how to develop a compelling vision and strategies to succeed with educational technology. Jason presented “How to Get Your Principal to Say Yes” at the annual EdXEdNYC, sharing key strategies to get your principal on board with your ideas.
Here are the key ideas Jason shared:
- Know Thy Self
What are you known for at your school? Use your reputation to help you get what you are asking for. For example, maybe you are known as the teacher who gets all her students to love reading and you want your principal to buy into a new technology that will help you do this even more effectively. Your proven record will make it easier to get what you want.
- Know Thy Principal
Everyone has a personality type and that includes your principal, who is a person. Figure out what his or her personality type is and be aware of appealing to what makes her tick. There are formal personality tests like Myers Briggs that are free and only take a few minutes to complete. You can try taking the test as though you were your principal to determine his or her type or just ask your principal to take it, then read up.
- Know Thy Priorities
What drives your principal? What does s/he care about most? When you are asking for something you want be able to speak the language of your principal’s priorities. Knowing how your principal is accountable helps you tailor your pitch.
- Know Thy Influencers
Every principal has a key person, or a few key people who have their ear. These are their go to people when it’s time to make decisions and/or handle situations. Some refer to this as their inner circle. Know who these people are. If you can get them on your side, you’re halfway there.
- Know Thy Politics
Like it or not, when it comes to education politics play a large role. Understand the politics your principal is operating under and try to determine ways that what you are asking can support your principal in his or her efforts to succeed politically. It might be meeting the priorities of a superintendent who wants every child or teacher to [fill in the blank]. How will what you’re proposing make your principal’s life easier politically. If you can answer that, you’re on your way.
- Know Thy Resources
Money, time, space and people. These are the four resources needed for any project. When you ask your principal for something, make sure you account for how you will acquire each of these resources.
- Know Thy Timing
Timing is everything. Figure out the best time to talk to your principal where there won’t be many distractions and when s/he is likely to be in a good mood. Maybe you are responsible for an important event or celebration at your school. A good time might be following that when your principal is still excited about what s/he saw. Maybe there is a certain morning or evening each week when your principal stays late or comes in early and has time to chat. Figure that out so your idea is well received.
- Know Thy Pitch
Don’t just go to your principal and share an idea. Show him that this is well thought out and bring a one-page proposal to refer to that addresses all the items above.
Want your principal to say yes to your next big idea? Knowing these eight strategies are key to getting him or her from maybe to yes.
If you have tried any of these strategies, or try them in the future - feel free to Tweet at Jason (@Levy_Jason)! In the meantime, don’t take no for an answer.
Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.
Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.