Saturday, September 2, 2017

Three Things Every Virtual School Administrator Should Do And Might Not Think About

Used with permission
This is not my first job as a Manager or Lead in a Virtual School Setting.  In fact, I have been the Lead for two states in a large Virtual
education organization.  However, this is the
first time I've had the title,"Principal,"
associated with my role.  As I'm thinking of my experience in my roles, I'm thinking about
what has worked well and what has not worked so well.

I am finding some consistency in what is
working (and in fact, it seemed to be something that worked well in my brick and mortar Administrative role as an Instructional Technology Trainer) so it seemed that sharing this information might be helpful to others.  I'll go even further and say that, as someone who used a blended learning approach as I've always taught with a classroom website that served as the Instructional Hub of my classroom, even before I was involved in virtual schools, this actually worked there, as well.  These are not likely your typical tips, though.  So,  in that light, here are my...

Three Things Every Virtual School Administrator Should Do And Might Not Think About

  1. Introduce Yourself:
    It very much is like something most educators do with their own students My first job was to spend some time letting the teachers know who I was.  This included sharing some insights into my background and how I ended up in front of them (or, on my side of the webcam talking
     to them).  It gives them a little understanding of the experience I bring to them. Now, the truth is I have a corny sense of humor and I let them know that and gave them a little proof of that
    with some pretty goofy jokes here and there but it gave them an understanding of who I was.  I do this in my way by having an ""About Me"" page on our Campus team webpage (or it could be your group on a social site designed for your business like Jive).  I'll talk more about the
    website later but, suffice it to say, this piece was corny.  Please note:  the "About Me" page for
    their eyes only:  It was a great start to laugh together and was the first step in establishing
    ourselves as a TEAM! So, in summary, take some time to be YOU, to provide a glimpse into  your heart, to give some insight into who you are and what you bring to the team!
  2. Establish an Online Presence For Your Team Info:
    Create an online website, cloud storage folder, or group location where you can post your resources, meeting recordings, Presentations, Helpful Videos, Agendas, and items so your teachers know exactly where to go to get them.  Start using this from day one so it becomes a habit for them.  You'll need to remind them a few times, at first, but over time, they will begin to understand that there is a central location online just for information for them that they can depend on.  Now, the second part of this is you have to update it with everything new! :)  It's worth the trouble, though, because teachers will go there instead of sending you emails or requests.  Perhaps even more importantly, you are modeling the method and it will result in implementation by others that continues to benefit everyone, including students.  Note:  Be sure you find a place you can keep private within your organization.  For instance, we use Google Apps in our business so Google Sites is a perfect solution for our site.  Other organizations may use online social sites like Jive, Salesforce, or SharePoint which can serve this need. To summarize, create a one-stop shop for all resources related to your team and keep it updated!
  3. Purposely Begin to Build Your Team Morale:  
    This means being very deliberate in your efforts to develop your team culture.  In my case, we always establish a team name.  I created a Google Form and had the teachers suggest team names which we then voted for.  Once our name was selected, use it!  We name our newsletter that way, include it in email salutations, at meeting in the banner of your presentation, and wherever you can.  Have fun with this!!!!  Here are some other suggestions to do as a team:

    *Create a fun activity with a silly award at the end.  For instance, we are having a feedback       activity to encourage individualized, targeted, and specific feedback.  I created a checklist     with points for the activities and set a goal. If everyone meets the goal, I'm going to do             something as a reward.  It doesn't have to be spending money.  Last year, I dyed my hair           purple when our team won a contest for our regional states. :)  Now, that might not be
    right for everyone, but there are other things that can be done.  My colleague had  a "pie-in-the-face" contest for the losing team which provided incentive for the teams to keep their administrator from being the target....or not.  :)  Another administrator promised to sing a song of the
    team's choice or some other fun "reward."  In other words, Create some fun activities to build a strong team culture!
    Below is the "purple hair" video I created for that contest. :)  It has a surprise ending, for sure!

I hope to share some more discoveries as I continue in this new journey!  I'd love to hear some of your ideas, as well. Please share your ideas below!  

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