My father-in-law is famously known within our family for his wise old sayings. One of our favorite wise old saying is based on an old superstition--"You gotta go out the door you came in". Usually he makes this statement as he's trying to figure out which door we entered.
This particular saying has had new meaning for me as I think about my exit strategy, transitioning from one principalship to another. In my post last week I wrote about the lack of writing about exit plans in contrast to the large amounts of writing about entry plans for leaders.
When I entered my principalship, four years ago, I started my entry plan four months before I even started the position with a focus on listening to students, teachers and parents as I learn about the culture of my new school. This strategy paid major dividends as I learned about the culture, connected with many people in my new community and learned about the strengths and needs of the school. My entry plan was a great strategy to help us connect as a school and help me integrate into the community and move forward.
Now as I think about exiting my principalship and setting the school in a place to continue to move forward, my father-in-law's saying has helped me to prioritize my focus for the exit plan--"You gotta go out the door you came in". The most important thing that I can do as I transition is to exit the same way that I entered, to listen to the needs of students, teachers and parents. Here are some ways that I can listen...
1. Listen to the fears, uncertainty and concerns of folks about the transition of leadership
2. Listen to what people and programs need in order to continue to be successful during the transition.
3. Listen for the issues that people are worried will be forgotten during the transition.
My goals for exiting are to make sure people feel supported and to make sure the school is ready for a successful transition. In order to accomplish these goals, I think I have to "go out the door I came in".