10 Tips to Start an Initiative the Right Way

Principals share what works for them when starting a new initiative.

Principals share what works for them when starting a new initiative.
October 2019, Volume 43, Issue 2

We reached out to our professional learning network on Twitter to learn about principals’ best tips to start new initiatives. Here’s what they had to say.

  1. Leading in a culture of change requires collaboration and recognition of the “why.” If it’s for the students and not a personal agenda, it’s difficult to find reason to argue. – Michael Harris, @behaviordad
  2. Plan, plan, and plan. Involve key stakeholders that will support your endeavors. Collaboration is essential to planning. Did I mention plan? Plan for the best and worst, but hope for the best. – Monique Watford, @moniquewatford
  3. I always get so excited and want to do it all now. I have to slow myself down. I remind myself Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take it slow. Don’t get overwhelmed. Embrace the discomfort. Get feedback. Make necessary changes. And enjoy the process of change. – Martina Carroll, @MartinaRES2016
  4. Celebrate all successes—small, large, and in-between! As progress is made and recognized, the motivational drive to continue keeps pumping. – Julie Bloss, @blossjulie
  5. A major tip I can give leaders and administrators is that you don’t have to have all of the answers when implementing a new initiative. It’s not all on you; it’s a team effort. – Hamish Brewer, @brewerhm
  6. Listen to stakeholders in the school community, staff, parents, and most importantly the kids to help find an entry point for positive change. Walk the talk and show everyone you’re all in. Building strong relationships and trust makes your school a family. – John Mattingly, @JohnMattingly23
  7. Be willing to say that the initiative isn’t working and readjust your course of action, even if it means admitting it isn’t the right time for something. – Kim Taylor, @principalkim
  8. Stick. With. It. Keeping the goal in mind and reminding everyone of the “why” is critical. There will be less worry about the initiative if everyone has knowledge of why it is happening. Also, keeping a positive attitude goes a long way. – Heather Keal, @heather_keal
  9. Fail forward and let your teachers know it’s safe to fail forward, too. Ask for help. Abandon what doesn’t work. Too many initiatives at once is not only overwhelming, but it also confuses your data. – Stephanie Young, @PrincipalYoung
  10. The biggest tip I would say is listen. Listen to what the concerns are. Listen to what the obstacles might be. Empathize with those around you. Once the cards are on the table, then move the focus to what’s best for kids and how to actively engage the initiative. – Michael Williford, @mwillifordjbms

Follow #NAESPchat for more tips like these on all sorts of topics in education. Join us for our next chat on Thursday, Nov. 14 as part of American Education Week.

Copyright © 2019. National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP’s reprint policy.