An Entry Plan for New Administrators

School leaders—new to the job or to a school—will find it useful to spend the first part of the year listening and immersing themselves in the school’s culture and values.

By Robert Feirsen, Seth Weitzman


June 13, 2024

In "An Entry Plan for New Administrators," Robert Feirsen and Seth Weitzman provide a detailed roadmap for new school leaders to navigate their initial months on the job. Published on June 13, 2024, the article emphasizes the importance of immersing oneself in the school’s culture and building strong relationships to effectively lead.

The authors begin by acknowledging the common feeling of imposter syndrome that new administrators often experience upon assuming their roles. To combat this, they suggest creating an entry plan—a structured approach to understanding the school’s culture, issues, and key stakeholders during the first few months.

The entry plan is divided into four stages: Introduction, Conversation, Immersion, and Engagement.


During the introduction phase, new administrators should take advantage of the spring season, if possible, to visit their new school before officially starting. With the superintendent’s permission, arrange a visit to meet staff and students, observe the school in action, and begin forming initial impressions. Meetings with key personnel, such as the school leadership team, PTA president, head custodian, and the principal’s secretary, are crucial. Additionally, conducting an exit interview with the outgoing principal and meeting with the superintendent can provide valuable insights. Communicating with staff and parents about the first visit and summer plans is essential to set the tone for a collaborative approach.


The summer period provides an ideal opportunity to start building relationships. New administrators should conduct a listening tour, asking open-ended questions to get to know staff members, understand their perspectives, and identify the school's strengths and needs. It is also important to engage with support staff, such as custodians and secretaries, to show that their roles are valued. Evening parent coffees can help gather community input and provide a more comprehensive understanding of the school’s environment.


With the start of the fall semester, the focus shifts to being present and actively engaging with the school community. New administrators should regularly visit classrooms, hold open office hours, and shadow students to gain firsthand experience of daily school life. Establishing clear expectations for meetings and participation, continuing parent coffees, and meeting with various community groups are key activities during this phase.


As the semester progresses, it’s time to start making informed decisions. By Thanksgiving, administrators should share their observations and feedback gathered from their interactions and interviews. This communication should highlight common themes, strengths in the school’s culture, and areas for improvement. Using inclusive language such as “our school” and “we” fosters a sense of collective responsibility and collaboration.

Key Takeaways

Throughout the entry plan, new administrators should focus on two main leadership building blocks: gathering information and fostering relationships. By listening, learning, and engaging with the school community, new leaders can build trust, establish credibility, and set the stage for meaningful and sustainable improvements.

In summary, Feirsen and Weitzman emphasize that an effective entry plan helps new administrators integrate into the school community and communicate that the journey ahead will be a collaborative effort. By focusing on building relationships and understanding the school’s culture, new leaders can navigate their initial months successfully and lay a strong foundation for future leadership.

Source: An Entry Plan for New Administrators

Original Article


Prepared with the assistance of AI software

OpenAI. (2024). ChatGPT (4) [Large language model].

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