Man juggling clocks

7 Tips to Help APs Master Time Management

Topics: Assistant Principals

Transitioning from classroom teacher to assistant principal (AP) can be challenging, but with your expertise as a principal—and these tips from a New York AP—you can help your APs overcome the challenge to grow and thrive in their new positions.

Master Time and Task Management

Transitioning from the role of a teacher to a school administrator can be quite a switch. Teachers that become assistant principals likely were great educators and managers of their own classrooms. As assistant principals, they now find that the daily schedule is filled with tasks and activities that require more communication between various stakeholders within the building, and if they want to be successful, they cannot work in tandem.

The administration team within the school should collaborate to prioritize goals to best manage the curriculum, instruction, communication, day-to-day school routines, and staff and student expectations, as well as parental outreach. Here’s how you can help:

  • Together, create a Comprehensive Education Plan (CEP) for the school. Typically, it is four to six overarching goals for the year, built upon data, a needs assessment, and overall school climate. Review the plan and update as necessary throughout the year. The goals outlined drive the monthly, weekly, and daily planning.
  • Develop a master calendar to structure the various committees within the school. In addition, share the calendar for each committee at the onset of the year, so everyone can schedule their time. Publicizing the calendars and making the meetings open to anyone who wants to attend is a strategy that establishes inclusiveness, greater communication, and transparency. The AP should work in conjunction with the instructional team and the principal’s cabinet to create monthly calendars to work toward the school’s goals.
  • Make meeting times intentional. The administration team should meet at the start of every month to plan observations, review data, and meet teachers for consistent communication. Or the principal and AP can meet weekly to discuss what is expected for the week, based on their latest findings from data and observations. Perhaps hold meetings in the mornings to anchor the day and share ideas for support. This will can lead to better communication and strengthen the momentum as leadership.

Overcome Disruptions

Great teachers plan units, daily lessons, and differentiate for the learners within the room. Similarly, productive school administrators will find that it is best to schedule the month for observations and various committees and meetings. Assistant principals should set goals for the week and month with principals and revisit them often. Here’s how you can help:

  • Allow for free time in APs’ schedules. Set aside time to meet with the AP daily, and during those meetings, help them create a schedule and a to-do list for the day—but reserve free time. This gives them flexibility to complete their tasks while also tackling a disruption, if it happens. Make sure the staff knows when this free time is in case they want to speak with the APs.
  • Designate email checking times. A good tip is reserve the emails for the beginning and end of each day. This will allow them to spend time in classrooms, honor scheduled meetings, and remain visible to the school community. (This tip might carry over to the principal role, too.)

Help APs Prioritize When They’re in the Weeds

The role of a school administrator is a very fast-paced position. For new APs, the learning curve within the first year is huge, and they need to understand that it is natural at times, to feel like they in the weeds. Here’s how you can help:

  • Speak up, work together, and manage time before it manages you. Set a plan, revisit the plan, and tweak the goals accordingly. Most important, stay the course. Don’t wait until the last minute to start observations, reports, planning large-scaled activities, or scheduling.
  • Be the rock your AP needs. Lead the way every day with stability and positivity. Keep your composure and do not put off what you can do today. If school administrators appear to be overwhelmed, it can have a ripple effect within the school community and climate.

Together, you and your APs can build a foundation of trust that will help them maximize their effectiveness and efficacy in their roles.

Donna McGuire is an assistant principal in the New York City school system.