Going Up?

Scott Bailey

New Year Image

It's an all-too-familiar scene.

Picture it with me.

You're in the grocery store, or coming out of the doctor’s office, or having dinner at a restaurant with the family, or doing any of the sundry other tasks you do as an ordinary person, when you (thankfully) get to set aside your “principal hat” for a bit. 

There you are, and up walks a parent or community member—who you may (or may not!) recognize—with a perfectly legitimate question about your school.

How many times have you been caught off guard in a similar situation?

As leaders, we are the public faces of our schools. We are the front line in controlling the narratives, in guiding public conversations in a positive way, and for spreading the gospel of the good work we do.

How do we do that?

Well, the first step is by consistently speaking meaningfully and coherently about our work and our schools. That’s easy to do when we’re at school, in our school mode. It can be considerably more difficult late on a Sunday night when you’ve run into the drug store to buy some NyQuil as a last ditch effort to make it to school on Monday.

That’s why the elevator pitch is so important.  Now, the “elevator pitch” is probably a familiar concept—you know, someone gets caught in an elevator with a VIP and suddenly has a few seconds to pitch an idea or perhaps even himself/herself.  What to say?

In this case, however, you are selling the good work of your school. So, the pitch is a brief, 30-60 second, positive, and more-or-less-memorized blurb about your school that’s guaranteed to leave a positive impression. Check out Mind Tools for a simple method to develop your pitch.

Crafting pitches about specific aspects of our schools is not a bad idea, either.

Got something to say about the school’s vision? Check

School climate? Check

Discipline philosophy? Check

That new bond package being floated in the district? Check

How about that new A-F school rating system? Check that, too.

What other aspects of your school should you be prepared to talk about?

Another idea is to create the pitches collaboratively with staff. Share them. And then use them to present a unified and consistent message.

Carry these elevator pitches in your mental pocket, and a positive impression is never more than a minute away!

About the Author: A former principal, Scott Bailey trains aspiring administrators in the Educational Leadership department at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Saturday, June 11, 2016