School is opening up any day for you now. You may have already started, or you may be able to squeeze out a couple last days of summer! I was fortunate enough to not only present at the National Principals Conference’s this summer in Boston but also attend a number of awesome sessions. There were all-star educators there like George Couros, Beth Houf, Jay Billy, the New Jersey Principals Association, Joe Sanfelippo, Eric Sheninger and so many more.
I was very impressed by all of the sessions and walked away adding something to my toolbox. One particular session with Jimmy Casas was filled with “Culturize” (Jimmy’s book…check it out!) but specifically was on hiring. Jimmy said something and did something that really changed my paradigm. He used the term: director of first impressions and that goes for all things in your school. When you hire people, do you call them yourselves and set up the interviews? Do you have a small conversation with them prior to them coming in? Do you set up all the arrangements for their arrival, including having them greeted by students and brought around the school? A specific parking lot reserved just for them? These were all things Jimmy talked about in creating a culture and climate where people feel welcome, and want to come work with you. He went on further to describe that he would put so much effort and energy into those conversations, that by the time they were done with the interview, those candidates would be dying to work for him and his school.
I loved it and ate it up. That mindset of the director of first impressions really hit home, and I have been sharing it with everyone at my school and in my community. I implemented a number of these practices in recent interviews and the candidates could not go on and on enough about how they were treated and how welcomed they felt. Just like Jimmy described, I believe they are dying to work at my school.
The learning points here: number one: Go to conferences and go see great speakers and educators! You will most definitely walk away better than you were before the session. So many of those sessions impacted me greatly and either added something to what I already do or added something totally new to my repertoire. These practices have not only improved my performance, but they have also improved the climate and culture of my school.
Number two: Add for yourself, for your staff, and your student leaders that they all are directors of first impressions. Your teachers are going to have new students in front of them. There will be new students in your hallways who have transferred from other districts, and we all certainly will have a new grade in front of us, whether it’s ninth grade, sixth grade, or those ever precious kindergartners. Become the most energetic and enthusiastic director of first impressions there is. Add that to the top of your job description list. It is very powerful and as we have all heard from when we were kids, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Thank you to the very many wonderful educators who presented at the National Principals’ conference especially Jimmy Casas who had a great impact on my practice. Cheers to a great school year everyone!
Quote: “People sometimes talk about the power of first impressions, and believe me, there is truth to it.” -Ann Brashares