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100 Day Plan - The Entry Plan for
an Incoming Superintendent

How to be successful in your first 100 days as a superintendent

Project Context


Education Elements worked with a small east coast district to coach the new superintendent and leadership team in forging a new path forward for the district.  The work required understanding the deep history behind what stakeholders wanted to change and what they wanted to keep the same. A traditionally high achieving district, leaders, teachers and community members realized that it was not as influential as it once was, and that it no longer had the high status it used to have. The district was eager for a new superintendent, but also had extremely high expectations for what he might be able to do right from the start.

Entry Plan for Superintendent

Challenge


Being a new superintendent is challenging for many reasons. You need to balance the need to listen with the need to act. You need to hear from everyone but be able to filter and understand the context behind their comments. You need to hope for candor but recognize you may not always get total honesty. You want to please as many people as you can. The new superintendent wanted extra eyes and ears to help him learn everything he needed, as quickly as he could, so he could develop a plan for how to support his district in achieving its goals. He needed a team who could listen, who could synthesize and who could make recommendations so that he could hear everything but not have the process take too long.

Intervention


Education Elements worked with the new superintendent and his team to identify the key questions to answer and the key stakeholders to engage. Over the course of ~4 weeks we conducted interviews and focus groups with 75+ stakeholders across the district including teachers, students, principals, parents, district leaders, community leaders, political leaders and beyond. We used these interviews to answer questions like: What was working that the new superintendent should continue? What changes should be put in place? What actions and behaviors did stakeholders expect from the new leader? What would make them proud to be members of the district? We then provided a set of recommendations, and supported the development of a talk track the superintendent could use to engage an even broader community, sharing what he had learned, testing the ideas and determining the path forward.

Impact


Education Elements developed a set of recommendations for the new superintendent and his team, and then a set of slides he could use to engage the community. Stakeholders were excited that they had been included in the process and empowered to continue to be candid. The broader community engaged in discussions about the new superintendent's priorities, and appreciated knowing that they were the result of many discussions, not just the ideas of someone new. He got off to a strong start, forming deep trust and laying out a path for the district to regain its status as a lighthouse district.

Resources


Overview of Recommendations for New Superintendents Key Recommendations  for a New Superintendent Overview

"Superintendents still aren’t getting to enjoy a long honeymoon phase. But getting off to a good start will pave the way for a tenure that is healthier, happier, longer and more successful."

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