I had the opportunity to speak to Matt Arend, Principal of Sigler Elementary in Plano ISD, a district serving nearly 54,000 students in Collin County. I am excited to share highlights (some paraphrased) of our conversation in hopes it inspires other school leaders in our state.
Question: How do you build and sustain the culture on your campus?
Mr. Arend: It’s not always easy to articulate the desired culture in words. You need to model the behavior through your actions. I don’t ask my teachers to do anything I am not willing to do myself. As we build a level of support for the culture, then we are able to better articulate the vision.
Question: How do you onboard new hires to the culture of your campus?
Mr. Arend: Our New Teacher Professional Learning is all about the culture and climate. They complete a breakout that is actually a guided field trip around our school and the community we serve. In this way, our new hires see first hand where our kids come from. And, it allows new staff members to spend time with one another in teams, snapping pictures and getting to know each other.
Question: How do you learn and grow as a leader?
Mr. Arend: I do this all the time. Knowing my strengths and shortcomings, I surround myself with people to grow from. By attending conferences, meeting face-to-face with people with different perspectives, and online through my Twitter professional learning network, I am plugged-in in different ways.
Question: What insight do you have to share about work/life balance?
Mr. Arend: Do as I say, not as I do. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find that balance. I run and work out in the early morning hours.
I give my teachers time to plan and talk with their team. I tell my staff it is always family first, and work second. It is important to be cognizant of when you put something on their plate, try to take something off. I need them to take care of themselves so they can give 100% of their 100% when they walk in the door.
I appreciate Mr. Arend’s time for this conversation, as he spoke to me while attending a family literacy conference! I challenge you to consider your responses to these questions and to share your story as a district/campus leader.
For the latest happenings at Silger Elementary, follow the school on Twitter @SiglerStars. You may also follow Matt Arend @Matthew_Arend as well.