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So Now You're the Superintendent!

So Now You're the Superintendent!

  • John Eller - Virginia Tech University, USA
  • Howard C. Carlson - Wickenburg Unified School District in Wickenburg, AZ, Sunnyside Unified School District

November 2008 | 240 pages | Corwin

Leadership Solutions

"The authors have captured the 'must knows' of the superintendency. This book is filled with keen insights and useful strategies to help the new superintendent establish credibility for long-term leadership success."
—James Rickabaugh, Superintendent
Whitefish Bay School District, WI

"Eller and Carlson offer realistic and practical suggestions for new superintendents to hit the ground running."
—Theodore Creighton, Professor
Virginia Tech

Practical strategies for meeting the challenges of your first year as a superintendent!

The opportunities and responsibilities in the crucial first years of a superintendency can be challenging as well as exciting. This practical resource provides ready-to-use techniques that help superintendents build the relationships and teamwork needed to face these challenges with success.

This insightful guide provides new superintendents with guidelines for making a positive difference while handling transitions, culture changes, financial issues, staff supervision, and team building. Using their combined experience as district administrators, the authors uncover the complexities of the job and offer candid discussions about how to:

  • Establish yourself as the instructional leader
  • Determine staff and community expectations for your performance
  • Prepare for landmines that may be waiting around the corner
  • Develop positive communications with all stakeholders

Addressing the most common issues faced by new superintendents, this valuable reference provides the leadership tools to help a school district move forward.

About the Authors
1. My Office Key Works, What's Next?
About This Chapter

The Superintendency: Understanding the Historical Context

Potential Pitfalls for New Superintendents

Challenges of Leading a School District

The Importance of Focusing on the "Big Picture"

Jockeying for Position

The Windowpane Model: A Tool for Analyzing and Understaning Constituent Perspectives

The Superintendent as Community Liaison

Develop a Key Communicators Listing

The Changing Role of the Superintendency

Navigating the Changing Landscape

Successful School Change

Hills to "Die On"

Successful Communicator


2. The Superintendent-School Board Relationship: A Cornerstone of Your Success
About This Chapter

Managing the Superintendent-Board Relationship

The Importance of Equal Treatment

The "Inner Circle"

Addressing Individual Board Member Requests

When Is Equal Treatment Unequal?

Superintendent-Board Chair/President Interaction

Establishing Superintendent-Board Chair/President Interaction Norms

Keeping the Chair/President Relationship Productive

The Basics of Board Communication

Successful Communication: Form and Frequency

Forms of Communication

A Special Note About E-Mail Communication

Frequency of Communication

Establishing Effective Superintendent-Board Chair/President Communication

Emergency Communication Standards

Maintenance of Your Communication Plan With the Board

Board Standards and Operating Protocols

Who Has Authority for What: The Board and Superintendent as a Team


3. Organizational Trust and Culture: What Every Superintendent Should Know
About This Chapter

Organizational Culture

Rapport, Trust, Climate, and Their Relation to Culture

The Importance of Trust

Building and Sustaining Organizational Trust

Organizational Culture: The Gatekeeper of Excellence

Properties of School Districts as Organizations

The Complexity of Organizations

Organizations Are Surprising

Organizations Are Deceptive

Organizations Are Like Organisms

Trust and Excellence in Employee Group/Union Relationships


4. School Finance 101: What Should the Superintendent Know?
About This Chapter

Staying Afloat: Four Key Financial Reports

Enrollment Reports

Monthly Enrollment Reports

Annual Enrollment Projections

Expenditure Reports

Key Components and Their Location in the Budget Report

Current Budget

Current Month's Expenditures

Previous Year's Budget Data

Amount of Money Left in the Current Budget

Revenue Reports

Staffing Plans/Position Control Systems

Long-Range Financial Projection: Your Own Crystal Ball

The Importance of Long-Range Projection

Understanding the School District's Financial Audit


5. How to Implement New Ideas in Your Initial Years as Superintendent
About This Chapter

The Change Process

The Honeymoon Period

Transitions and the Change Process

Levers of Change

Frames of Reference Related to the Change Process

Strategies to Consider When Dealing With Resistance

Facilitating/Guiding Groups Through Change

Putting It Behind Us

Learning Walk

Implementation Blocking


6. Supervising Principals and Directors: Strategies for Success
About This Chapter

Supervision of Executive-Level Administrators and Principals

Getting the Most From Your Staff Members

Supervision Strategies for Directors and Department/Divisional Administrators

Evaluating Department Heads, Assistant Superintendents, and Directors

Goal Setting


7. What About the Students? Instructional Leadership and Dealing With Federal Programs
About This Chapter

Instructional Leadership

No Child Left Behind Act

Special Education


8. Dealing With Difficult People and Situations
About This Chapter

What's Behind All of This Negative Behavior?

Frames of Reference

Negative Reinforcement

Understanding the Perspectives of Others

Types of Conflict

Substantive (Cognitive) Conflict

Affective (Personality-Based) Conflict

Skills for Dealing With Difficult People

Temporary Suspension of Opinion


Reflecting Skills

Implementation Blocking

Shifting Energy Focus

Design and Implement Positive Problem-Solving Processes

Mediating Conflict

Working Positively With the Press


9. Getting the Word Out: Effective Communication Strategies
About This Chapter

The Power of Effective Communication

Sticky Note Ripple Effects

Managing Information Flow in Your Office and in the District

Establishing a Board Communication Process

Superintendent to Board

Board to Community

Community to Board

Board to Superintendent

Handling Private and Public Data


10. It's July, Now What?
About This Chapter

The Importance of an Entry Plan: Successfully Navigating Your First Ninety Days on the Job

Opening Day With Staff

Selecting a Mentor

Key Components for Successful Mentor-Mentee Relationships

Sample Calendar of Monthly Events/Activities


Key Points From Each Chapter

"Gives clear objectives and identifies points essential to achieving success. It will be a valuable resource for novice superintendents, as well as a refresher for experienced or struggling superintendents."

Belinda G. Gimbert, Assistant Professor
The Ohio State University

"I recommend this work to anyone considering applying for this top leadership position. It would be intriguing to work through leaders' thought processes with them as they consider the questions posed at the end of each chapter and use the tools included throughout the work."

Judith A. Rogers, Professional Learning Specialist
Tucson Unified School District, AZ

"This book will appeal to superintendents at all levels of experience. Having just retired after 35 years in public education, I can only say I wish I had a book as practical as this one, with such valuable, realistic information to use as a guide."

Marian K. Hermie, Clinical Associate Professor
Arizona State University

“Finally! A much-needed assistance for aspiring and practicing school superintendents. Eller and Carlson offer realistic and practical suggestions for new superintendents to hit the ground running.”

Theodore Creighton, Professor, Virginia Tech
Former Executive, National Council of Professors of Educational Administration

"The leadership transition process is the most difficult path to traverse, but this book helps leaders find a smoother way. The guidance is practical and usable. It feels like you are sitting at a table and listening to ten successful superintendents."

John Gordon, Director
Arizona School Boards Association

"Offering a rich combination of research findings, expert advice, and practical experience, Eller and Carlson have captured the 'must knows' of the superintendency. This book is filled with keen insights and useful strategies to help the new superintendent navigate early mine fields and establish credibility for long-term leadership success."

James Rickabaugh, Superintendent
Whitefish Bay School District, WI
Key features
  • Hands-on guide for beginning superintendents 
  • Full of strategies and templates that can be used immediately 
  • Comprehensive coverage of everything you might need in your first years as a superintendent

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ISBN: 9781412941723
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