46 life hacks for new administrators
October 5, 2020
21. Get to know the students. Recognizing a student by name at the supermarket with their parent impresses the heck out of everybody. 22. Cultivate shared experiences with the adults. Play in the staff vs. students volleyball match, host a barbecue and corn hole tournament for maintenance, grounds, and custodial staff.  23. Share your stories. People like to connect with administrators who are not always “all about the work.” 24. Award tokens of gratitude for going above and beyond the call of duty. I have an assortment of super hero pins to present to staff for heroic deeds. For example, the bus driver and teacher who thwarted a hijack attempt: Wonder Woman pins. Custodian who helped a choking student in the cafeteria: Superman pin. Maintenance worker who trapped and relocated four opossums from a classroom: Spider-Man pin. 25. Listen more than you talk. 26. Presume positive intent. 27. Delegate where you can. 28. Manage your school’s communication before it manages you. 29. Don’t work in isolation. 30. Be a servant leader. 31. Students first. 32. Build capacity with all team members. 33. Be humble. Move your ego aside, serve, and lead with passion and humility. 34. Be an equitable school leader. Advocate and act for those without a voice. 35. Be visible. You should be over 10,000 steps every day. 36. Be organized and seek balance. Ask for help when you need it and calendar time for yourself. 37. Always have a “plan B” in place. 38. Your decisions will set precedent for others, so before making a decision, look at all angles and consider current/future consequences, good and bad, as much as you can. 39. You will never make everyone happy — accept it, and do what is best for students.  40. Ask for outcomes, not methods.  41. Plan each action with the end in mind and be accountable. 42. Organize each day to do first things first. 43. Craft leadership strategies for continuous improvement of teaching and learning. 44. Lead by example.  45. Celebrate success.   46. Document every conversation/meeting. Contributors: Erika Rivera, Margaret Nichols, Susan Labrecque, Chris Christensen, Jennifer Burks, D. Chris Calabrese, Hector Gonzalez, Gerrie Kincaid, Nick Taylor, Matt Bell, Roberta Cheney, Annette Lane, Michael Shepherd, Andrea Somoza-Norton, Anthony Ortiz, Judith Rossi, Jose Sanchez, Craig Helmdstedter, Alexander Senar, Blanca Rochin, and Tandy Taylor.

ACSA Awards 2020 Recognition Event
What: Virtual awards ceremony honoring the Administrator of the Year and Special award awardees When: 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6 Cost: Free, no RSVP or registration required Info: Watch live on
and congratulate your colleagues in the comments section.
We asked the 2020 Administrators of the Year to share their top life hacks for new educational leaders. From day-to-day habits to career-long best practices, their collected wisdom and practical advice will make any new administrator’s path ahead a little easier.

Celebrate these awardees during ACSA’s 2020 Leadership Summit, a live virtual event Nov. 5-6, 2020 with on-demand access all week long. Attendees will enjoy dozens of pre-recorded and live sessions on topics relevant to school leaders. Register now at
1. Calendar everything you can ahead of time and provide yourself several reminders. 2. Make dinners for the whole week on Sunday so that you’re ensuring you are eating healthy throughout the week. 3. Hang three outfits in your closet that are already put together, so that during rough mornings, all you have to do is grab and go. 4. Write positive and authentic emails to individual staff members and then schedule them to be sent out throughout the year.  5. Always have a stack of “thank you” cards and Starbucks cards at hand ... being timely in thanking someone is very important.  6. Find comfortable shoes and get them in every color.  7. Invest time in your people — students, staff, parents, community.  8. Treat every student the way you would want your own children treated.  9. Find a mentor, someone you admire and trust, and learn all you can from them.  10. Make connections with students, and let them know you care. 11. Integrity first — hold yourself to a higher standard, be honest and transparent. 12. Start your day with the hardest tasks, not emails. You will start the day feeling accomplished.  13. Treat your employees with equal respect. You are not better just because of your title.  14. Kill clutter — it will help you focus and be more productive. 15. Your education does not prepare you to be a new administrator. Jump in, don’t try to be someone else, and just be your “best self!”  16. Know your core values. What makes you passionate about education? What are your beliefs about discipline, equity, leadership? Are you staying hungry, and humble?  17. Get into classrooms. Seeing learning brings us joy! Getting into the classroom helps to better understand the challenges of today and keeps us connect to students. It allows us to better support teachers and administrators.  18. Use a digital calendar and a paper journal to take notes. No one can remember everything that happened in a day or a task to follow up on.  19. Be timely with getting back to people. An angry parent might be willing to listen to you about solving an issue. Not getting back to them in a timely manner will make the situation worse and take much longer to repair.  20. Make your lunch in the morning, then (this is really important) eat it at lunchtime. Skipping lunch or eating whatever junk you can find on an impulse saps your energy in the afternoon. 
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