Loose or Tight: How Will You Lead

In previous posts, I have addressed the issues of the local Christian school principal as the key to school improvement, the importance of establishing a vision for the local Christian school ministry, and the need for cultural change within the local Christian school.  Given the role of the local Christian school principal as the key to improvement, let me address the implications of a “loose” leadership style as opposed to a “tight” leadership style.


Early research suggests that there is an optimum style for a particular situation.  The role of the Christian school principal is to determine that optimum and to lead the staff in determining what to do and how to do it.

Transforming Your School

Cultural change:  it is not a program to be adopted.  Rather, it is a process of transforming the belief system of a school.  It is a transformation that has lasting value and it must conform to principles to be found only in the Word of God.

© 2006 Andreas Schaefer. Creative Commons. See image citations for full reference (#39).

© 2006 Andreas Schaefer. Creative Commons. See image citations for full reference (#39).

It deals with habits, with long-held assumptions about the education of children, and with goals and expectations.  It deals with the way a school staff views their role in the education of children.  It must be systemic in nature, something apart from individual members of the professional staff that is worthy of their commitment.

Down But Not Out!

Day 2 of the Kingdom School Institute has come and gone, and I must admit it was a bit of a painful experience.  You see, I got knocked down, and it wasn’t because I tripped and fell, no, I got punched in the gut, the head, and even the heart.  It was a brutal, one-sided fight, and I deserved every. last. punch.

© 2011 Eva Rinaldi. Creative Commons. See image citations for full reference (#38).

© 2011 Eva Rinaldi. Creative Commons. See image citations for full reference (#38).

Why did this happen to me?  The answer is simple.

It is Easier to be Traditional Than Biblical

Day 1 of the Kingdom School Institute is in the books, and I feel like I’m trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant!  I am so overwhelmed but in a good way!  I’d like to share some of my favorite quotes from the day!

© 2013 Brandon Shea. Creative Commons. See image citations for full reference (#37).

© 2013 Brandon Shea. Creative Commons. See image citations for full reference (#37).

The first quote is actually the title of this post…

Kingdom School Institute

I’m excited to be able to attend the Kingdom School Institute, which is being hosted at Prestonwood Christian Academy.  Dr. Glen Schultz (author of Kingdom Education – a book that I HIGHLY recommend) is the founder of the conference, and he is one of the primary presenters, along with Dr. Larry Taylor, Headmaster at Prestonwood Christian.

Photo courtesy of lifeway.com.

Photo courtesy of lifeway.com.

The institute begins today and runs through Friday!  The official hashtag for the conference is #ksi, and I’ll be using that hashtag to provide updates on the Focus Twitter feed.  If you’re interested in keeping up with action, be sure to follow @FocusOnEdu.   Also, I’m planning to provide quick updates on the conference here on the blog.  I look forward to sharing this conference with you!

Steering Wheel or Spare Tire?

I recently saw a church sign that read, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”


As Christian educators, do we wait and pray when we’re in the midst of difficult circumstances, when a student is causing us a problem, or we are facing a difficult confrontation?  Or are we letting prayer be the “steering wheel” that guides our interactions with students?

This Year is in the Bag!

Dr. Cathy Dotson serves as the Elementary Principal of Wilmington Christian Academy in Wilmington, NC. Her 21 years in Christian education and expertise in early childhood and elementary learning ideally equip her to share with FOCUS readers.

Now that the school year is over, it is time to evaluate so that next year will be even better. Take time while you are resting, relaxing, and refreshing to reflect on this past school year.


Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What do I need to add to the curriculum next year to make it more effective in guiding the teaching of diverse learners?
  2. What planning can I do this summer to make me more efficient during the school year?
  3. How can I improve my classroom environment to make it more enjoyable and interesting?
  4. What new methods of instruction can I use next year to cultivate different styles of learners?
  5. How can I keep my students engaged each moment of the day?
  6. What different methods of assessment can I use next year that I haven’t used before?
  7. What expectations should I have for next year’s class?
  8. How can I better reach the parents for Christ?
  9. How can I deepen my students’ love for the Lord and knowledge of Him?
  10. How can I become a more effective Christian educator?

Notice: “I” is the common word in each question. You are the only person that can change/improve your classroom. Take ownership of your classroom and improve for next year. During your quiet time this summer, meditate on these questions so you can form a game plan for growth this summer.  While you are resting, relaxing, and refreshing…don’t forget to reflect!

What would you add to the list?  How would you answer one of the above questions?  

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Jet Lag: Good for Students

Dr. Phil Johnson is the founder and president of Global Next Research Group and Leadership Institute. Phil is a former educator, administrator and developer of educational programs, but he currently uses his expertise to speak to audiences and train leaders throughout the US, Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Through the research arm of his organization, Phil has met with leaders, influencers and journalists in places such as Moscow, Israel, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan. His extensive travel, research, writing and first-person interviews across the world bring a unique perspective to his work in developing a new generation of leaders.

As a Christian, Phil’s most important desire is to bring hope to the world and to reflect God’s character to those he serves.

Ok, that title isn’t really true. Not even a little bit.  Actually, jet lag is not good for anyone – it can disrupt sleep cycles, make you cranky and cause memory loss.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Johnson's Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Johnson’s Facebook page.

I know a little something about jet lag because I run an organization that chases stories around the world, trains many hundreds of leadership students from at least four continents, and I have sampled more pillows than any normal person should. Over a period of 12 busy weeks this past season, I found myself in 14 different countries. So jet lag, for better or for worse, has become my partner!

How Do We Change?

There are two schools of thought about improving the Christian schools of the United States, but we must remember that when God changes an individual, He changes that individual on the inside with a new birth, a spiritual birth.  School improvement can only occur within the local Christian school and it will involve changing the culture of the school.

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This is the 3rd article by Dr. Suiter in a series about the Christian school principal. To read parts 1 and 2 click here and here.

The first type of change might be called structural change – it deals with changing the policy manual, perhaps creating new programs, modifying the rules and procedures, some of which may have been in place for years.  The second is cultural change.  It examines basic assumptions about the education of children, re-visits and clarifies the beliefs of the professional staff, and studies the habits and norms of people working within the system.  Culture is simply the way things are done.

While there is frequently a need for structural change, the real hope for improving the effectiveness of Christian schooling rests with changing the culture within the Christian schools of this nation.

The Communication Conundrum

Have you ever heard about one of your parents saying something like this to her child: “wait, there’s a concert tomorrow night that you are required to attend?!  Why didn’t I know about that?”  As a school leader, there are few things that pain my heart more  than to know that I have parents in my school who didn’t get the message about an event taking place or an important project that their child has coming due soon (typically the next day).  I can just hear the frustration in her voice as she talks with her child.

communication conundrm.001

What bothers me about these situations is that typically my staff or myself really did attempt to communicate the necessary information, but for some reason, the message didn’t connect with the intended audience.  As a school leader or teacher, I’m sure that you can identify with the communication conundrum: finding ways to dispense important information that connects with the intended audience.  Simply getting the “word out” isn’t good enough if the audience doesn’t get the message!