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How to set goals as a school leader that stick around for a long time

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Some teachers call the top spot in a school the revolving door. Every new principal has a different take on what the school should focus. And every year it seems to change. In Episode #457 of the Transformative Principal podcast Eric Makelky describes how to prioritize the focus of the building principal, staff, and school community.  

By pursuing the same three school-wide goals each year the staff has been able to measure as well as celebrate success, avoid flavor of the month change that doesn’t align to the priorities of the school, and prevent becoming overwhelmed by mandates, change initiatives, and moving targets.

The goals of Pinedale Middle School have been:

1. Every student has a trusted adult staff member

2. Beat the state average in math and reading growth.

3. Demonstrate the beliefs, behaviors, and outcomes that create our school culture.

In the beginning, Makelky wanted to see how their school was doing. When He asked the teachers how many students had a trusted adult, they found that above 90%. When he asked the same question of the students, their response was closer to 35%. Obviously some work needed to be done. 

Makelky believes that beating the state average in math and reading growth comes from diligent, dedicated teachers who provide intervention when kids are struggling. Sure enough, this works. They assess their students to see how they are on their pathway to typical growth, and by the middle of the year in both reading and math, they were 114% and 140% above their target. 

Culture takes effort. Makelky says that the beliefs and attitudes create behaviors that produce outcomes that reinforce the beliefs and attitudes. “It’s a cyclical process,” he says, and you can’t ignore any piece of that, “Your culture is whatever you are willing to walk by and ignore.” It’s important to talk about things that people experience so you can get the culture you want.

Here is a mid-year report that shows how much progress has come from having a consistent focus at Pinedale Middle School.

Eric credits the Transformative Principal Mastermind for helping him learn, improve, and connect with other principals.  Check it out, It makes a huge difference.

Eric Makelky has been the Pinedale Middle School principal in Pinedale, WY.  He earned a Bachelors and Master’s degree from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT.  Eric has worked as a middle school language arts and social studies teacher, football, wrestling, and track coach, 6–12 instructional facilitator, middle school assistant principal, and Skyline Academy (alternative high school) principal.

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