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So Now You're the Superintendent!

Practical strategies for meeting the challenges of your first year as a superintendent!

This insightful guide provides guidelines for making a positive difference while handling transitions, culture changes, financial issues, staff supervision, and team building. Addressing the most common issues faced by new superintendents, the authors uncover the complexities of the job and offer candid discussions about how to:

  • Establish yourself as the instructional leader
  • Determine staff and community expectations for your performance
  • Prepare for landmines that may be waiting around the corner
  • Develop positive communications with all stakeholders and build key relationships to help the school district move forward

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12, Elementary, Secondary
  • ISBN: 9781412941723
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Year: 2008
  • Page Count: 240
  • Publication date: November 19, 2008

Price: $41.95



Leadership Solutions

"The authors have captured the 'must knows' of the superintendency. This book is filled with keen insights and useful strategies to help the new superintendent establish credibility for long-term leadership success."
—James Rickabaugh, Superintendent
Whitefish Bay School District, WI

"Eller and Carlson offer realistic and practical suggestions for new superintendents to hit the ground running."
—Theodore Creighton, Professor
Virginia Tech

Practical strategies for meeting the challenges of your first year as a superintendent!

The opportunities and responsibilities in the crucial first years of a superintendency can be challenging as well as exciting. This practical resource provides ready-to-use techniques that help superintendents build the relationships and teamwork needed to face these challenges with success.

This insightful guide provides new superintendents with guidelines for making a positive difference while handling transitions, culture changes, financial issues, staff supervision, and team building. Using their combined experience as district administrators, the authors uncover the complexities of the job and offer candid discussions about how to:

  • Establish yourself as the instructional leader
  • Determine staff and community expectations for your performance
  • Prepare for landmines that may be waiting around the corner
  • Develop positive communications with all stakeholders

Addressing the most common issues faced by new superintendents, this valuable reference provides the leadership tools to help a school district move forward.

Key features

  • Hands-on guide for beginning superintendents 
  • Full of strategies and templates that can be used immediately 
  • Comprehensive coverage of everything you might need in your first years as a superintendent


John Eller photo

John Eller

John Eller has had a variety of experiences in working with adults over the years he has been in education. His experiences include work educational leaders at Virginia Tech University, developing teacher leaders in a Maters program, serving as the Executive Director of Minnesota ASCD, work as a principal’s training center director, a position as an assistant superintendent for curriculum, learning, and staff development, and several principal positions in a variety of settings. In addition to the work he does in training and supporting facilitators, John also does work in the areas of dealing with difficult people, building professional learning communities, employee evaluation, conferencing skills, coaching skills, strategic planning strategies, school improvement planning and implementation, differentiated instruction, leadership for differentiation, employee recruitment, selection, and induction, supervisory skills, and effective teaching strategies.

He has his PhD. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Loyola University-Chicago and his MS in Educational Leadership from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. John has authored books on substitute teaching, wrote The Training Video Series for the Professional School Bus Driver, The principals’ Guide to Custodial Supervision contributes articles for the publication Superintendents Only. He wrote Effective Group Facilitation in Education: How to Energize Meetings and Manage Difficult Groups, and co-authored So Now You’re the Superintendent, the best selling, Energizing Staff Meetings and Creative Strategies to Improve School Culture all through Corwin Press.

Howard C. Carlson photo

Howard C. Carlson

Howard Carlson is superintendent of the Wickenburg Unified School District located in Wickenburg, Arizona. Carlson has previously served at the assistant superintendent and superintendent levels in the states of Washington, Minnesota and Arizona. He has worked as President & CEO of a company which started schools in the states of Minnesota and Colorado and has consulted with school districts and private sector companies on a variety of educational issues. In addition to his current full-time position, he serves as a part-time faculty member at Walden University, where he works with students who are pursuing their doctorate in administrator leadership for teaching & learning. In 1990, he was recognized as the Washington State Young Agriculture Teacher of the Year and later as the Western Region of the United States Young Agriculture Teacher of the Year. In 1994, he was named the Washington Association of Agriculture Teachers’ Association, District #4, Administrator of the Year and in 2002 was selected as a candidate for the Outstanding Young Minnesotan Award. In 2004, he was chosen, along with a select group of Minnesota superintendents, to meet with the Commissioner of the U.S. Department of Education to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.

Carlson received his BS and doctorate from Washington State University and his master’s degree from Heritage University. His doctoral study major was educational leadership and his minor was curriculum & instruction.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



About the Authors

1. My Office Key Works, What's Next?

About This Chapter

The Superintendency: Understanding the Historical Context

Potential Pitfalls for New Superintendents

Challenges of Leading a School District

The Importance of Focusing on the "Big Picture"

Jockeying for Position

The Windowpane Model: A Tool for Analyzing and Understaning Constituent Perspectives

The Superintendent as Community Liaison

Develop a Key Communicators Listing

The Changing Role of the Superintendency

Navigating the Changing Landscape

Successful School Change

Hills to "Die On"

Successful Communicator


2. The Superintendent-School Board Relationship: A Cornerstone of Your Success

About This Chapter

Managing the Superintendent-Board Relationship

The Importance of Equal Treatment

The "Inner Circle"

Addressing Individual Board Member Requests

When Is Equal Treatment Unequal?

Superintendent-Board Chair/President Interaction

Establishing Superintendent-Board Chair/President Interaction Norms

Keeping the Chair/President Relationship Productive

The Basics of Board Communication

Successful Communication: Form and Frequency

Forms of Communication

A Special Note About E-Mail Communication

Frequency of Communication

Establishing Effective Superintendent-Board Chair/President Communication

Emergency Communication Standards

Maintenance of Your Communication Plan With the Board

Board Standards and Operating Protocols

Who Has Authority for What: The Board and Superintendent as a Team


3. Organizational Trust and Culture: What Every Superintendent Should Know

About This Chapter

Organizational Culture

Rapport, Trust, Climate, and Their Relation to Culture

The Importance of Trust

Building and Sustaining Organizational Trust

Organizational Culture: The Gatekeeper of Excellence

Properties of School Districts as Organizations

The Complexity of Organizations

Organizations Are Surprising

Organizations Are Deceptive

Organizations Are Like Organisms

Trust and Excellence in Employee Group/Union Relationships


4. School Finance 101: What Should the Superintendent Know?

About This Chapter

Staying Afloat: Four Key Financial Reports

Enrollment Reports

Monthly Enrollment Reports

Annual Enrollment Projections

Expenditure Reports

Key Components and Their Location in the Budget Report

Current Budget

Current Month's Expenditures

Previous Year's Budget Data

Amount of Money Left in the Current Budget

Revenue Reports

Staffing Plans/Position Control Systems

Long-Range Financial Projection: Your Own Crystal Ball

The Importance of Long-Range Projection

Understanding the School District's Financial Audit


5. How to Implement New Ideas in Your Initial Years as Superintendent

About This Chapter

The Change Process

The Honeymoon Period

Transitions and the Change Process

Levers of Change

Frames of Reference Related to the Change Process

Strategies to Consider When Dealing With Resistance

Facilitating/Guiding Groups Through Change

Putting It Behind Us

Learning Walk

Implementation Blocking


6. Supervising Principals and Directors: Strategies for Success

About This Chapter

Supervision of Executive-Level Administrators and Principals

Getting the Most From Your Staff Members

Supervision Strategies for Directors and Department/Divisional Administrators

Evaluating Department Heads, Assistant Superintendents, and Directors

Goal Setting


7. What About the Students? Instructional Leadership and Dealing With Federal Programs

About This Chapter

Instructional Leadership

No Child Left Behind Act

Special Education


8. Dealing With Difficult People and Situations

About This Chapter

What's Behind All of This Negative Behavior?

Frames of Reference

Negative Reinforcement

Understanding the Perspectives of Others

Types of Conflict

Substantive (Cognitive) Conflict

Affective (Personality-Based) Conflict

Skills for Dealing With Difficult People

Temporary Suspension of Opinion


Reflecting Skills

Implementation Blocking

Shifting Energy Focus

Design and Implement Positive Problem-Solving Processes

Mediating Conflict

Working Positively With the Press


9. Getting the Word Out: Effective Communication Strategies

About This Chapter

The Power of Effective Communication

Sticky Note Ripple Effects

Managing Information Flow in Your Office and in the District

Establishing a Board Communication Process

Superintendent to Board

Board to Community

Community to Board

Board to Superintendent

Handling Private and Public Data


10. It's July, Now What?

About This Chapter

The Importance of an Entry Plan: Successfully Navigating Your First Ninety Days on the Job

Opening Day With Staff

Selecting a Mentor

Key Components for Successful Mentor-Mentee Relationships

Sample Calendar of Monthly Events/Activities


Key Points From Each Chapter





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