Responding to Internal & External Issues as a School Administrator

Instructor: Kristilynn Turney

Kristilynn has a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Management. She has taught high school English, Public Speaking and Theater; served as instructional coach; consultant, assistant principal, principal, asst. director and college professor.

Issues will arise in schools. Because the majority of these issues fall into the hands of the school administrator, leaders must be armed with solutions and ideas to prevent from making the issues greater or even worse.

The School Administrator

The complexity of the role of a school administrator is great. Research has shown that school leaders can have a tremendous impact on student achievement, staff productivity, school perception and community outreach. The layers of impact are deep, therefore, a strong framework for addressing internal and external issues is necessary. One bad situation, such as a student suicide as a result of bullying at school, a mistreated staff member or a drastic negative turn in test scores can ruin the perception of a school, internally and externally, if not handled appropriately. In this lesson, you will learn how to respond to pertinent political, social and economic issues in the internal and external environments to help curb the negative outcomes.

Internal Environment

The internal environment includes staff and students. Most internal matters are social and rarely pertain to politics or economic issues. In the event that they are political or economic, it typically becomes a social issue. When internal issues arise, a framework and protocol are important to prevent the concern from growing. An example of this may be a school fight between students or a staff member who was disciplined for misconduct. Both matters can be blown up and taken outside of the school or possibly even to the news media. A common protocol for preventing internal social issues from spreading includes developing a common language and expectations for addressing issues in the school. This could include:

  • Ban the use of cell phones/video cameras during school so that fights or emergencies are not recorded or shared.
  • Develop a culture against spreading rumors. If there are questions, concerns or rumors, staff should contact an administrator.
  • Present information first hand to staff and students to prevent rumors or misinformation from going externally. This can be accomplished by making announcements or having a meeting and providing factual information about the internal issues.

External Environment

In the age of social media, negative news travels fast. To ensure that news travels even faster, some negative external groups may develop social media pages, websites, and community groups. While most external matters are social like internal matters, external issues can also include political and economic issues as well. Some examples of these include social matters such as fights, a student suicide, personnel matters, and poor academic performance. However, political and economic issues, such as school board elections and mismanagement of school funds are also included in possible external issues. Here are some common protocols for responding to these issues:

  • Always be open and honest and share as much information as possible. While it may seem easier and less painful to withhold released information, in the long run it is always worthwhile to be open and honest. The information shared with one group must be shared in the same way with other groups. Conversely, if information is being withheld, withhold it to all external groups - not just some.
  • Present the facts. Do not impose opinions or give unnecessary information. Simply stick to the facts.

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