You are here

So Now You're the Superintendent!

So Now You're the Superintendent!

  • John Eller - Virginia Tech University, USA
  • Howard C. Carlson - Wickenburg Unified School District in Wickenburg, AZ, Sunnyside Unified School District

November 2008 | 240 pages | Corwin

Published in Association with American Association of School Administrators

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.

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

"Gives clear objectives and identifies points essential to achieving success. It will be a valuable resource for novice superintendents, as well as a refresher for experienced or struggling superintendents."

Belinda G. Gimbert, Assistant Professor
The Ohio State University

"I recommend this work to anyone considering applying for this top leadership position. It would be intriguing to work through leaders' thought processes with them as they consider the questions posed at the end of each chapter and use the tools included throughout the work."

Judith A. Rogers, Professional Learning Specialist
Tucson Unified School District, AZ

"This book will appeal to superintendents at all levels of experience. Having just retired after 35 years in public education, I can only say I wish I had a book as practical as this one, with such valuable, realistic information to use as a guide."

Marian K. Hermie, Clinical Associate Professor
Arizona State University

“Finally! A much-needed assistance for aspiring and practicing school superintendents. Eller and Carlson offer realistic and practical suggestions for new superintendents to hit the ground running.”

Theodore Creighton, Professor, Virginia Tech
Former Executive, National Council of Professors of Educational Administration

"The leadership transition process is the most difficult path to traverse, but this book helps leaders find a smoother way. The guidance is practical and usable. It feels like you are sitting at a table and listening to ten successful superintendents."

John Gordon, Director
Arizona School Boards Association

"Offering a rich combination of research findings, expert advice, and practical experience, Eller and Carlson have captured the 'must knows' of the superintendency. This book is filled with keen insights and useful strategies to help the new superintendent navigate early mine fields and establish credibility for long-term leadership success."

James Rickabaugh, Superintendent
Whitefish Bay School District, WI
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

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1: My Office Key Works, What's Next?

Preview this book

Purchasing options

Volume Discounts Available

contact corwin

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9781412941723
ISBN: 9781412941716

For instructors