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Kick-start the year by offloading administrivia to a chatbot

Here's how one leader frees up his time by letting a chatbot do the lion's share of his more mundane tasks.

5 min read

EducationEducational Leadership

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headshot of Michael Gaskell

Starting the school year off right is essential to establishing the foundation as a leader. Given the demands that often bog us down, consider that the primary obstacle is often those irritating, festering tasks that are necessary but pragmatically cumbersome. These burden me as the school year launches, and I’m trying to institute a firm bedrock for teaching and learning to flourish. There are solutions to navigate around the minutiae and administrivia to achieve our ultimate goal of student achievement. Understanding these and seizing on new tools offers a unique resolution for accelerating our productivity.

Chatbot prompts to ease your workload

Here are common nuisances that you and I face at the start of the school year, which I have found remarkable shortcuts to, now that generative AI is available. I use ChatGPT, and Bing Chat interchangeably when prompting for content.

Task How it helps Prompt Example
Creating personalized welcome letters Instantly generate personalized welcome letters for families, introducing key school concepts and highlighting important procedures. As the principal, write a letter to families welcoming them to the school, explaining the value of safety and learning in our community, in a professional and friendly style.
Converting text into a slideshow with (#) slides. (Delimiters help reduce quantity.) Transforming text into a slideshow format offers a quick method for teaching and learning. Revise for preferences of the teacher to emphasize (important content that AI chat doesn’t know).  Convert this text into a slideshow from me as the school principal to my faculty, explaining how opening day will work, in eight slides. 
Coming up with staff professional development Generate a professional development activity for staff members, taking into account their individual goals, preferences and areas for growth, so the principal can efficiently plan relevant training sessions and workshops. Generate a professional development activity for teachers based on (your topic).
Answering common questions Create an FAQ for students, parents and faculty, such as one regarding school policies, course schedules or homework assignments. Why do we have to have safety drills?
Refining writing at the speed of light Dramatically streamline communication, making it faster and more efficient.  Reply to this email professionally. (Copy and paste the email.)
Finding more effective communication styles Aid administrators in crafting professional-looking emails to school board members, parents and other stakeholders to whom we must write well and convincingly. Write an email to parents about why a type of drink that is popular among students is unhealthy, encouraging them in a supportive way to offer healthy, tasty alternatives.
Accelerating access to community feedback (Likert scale survey responses do not allow for greater content and context of invaluable feedback.) Identify patterns in feedback on open-ended surveys that school leaders query parents, faculty and students about.  See my article on how to do this.


When we offload costly and ever increasing demands, we are also managing our wellness. Offloading trivial tasks to a chatbot helps school leaders’ wellness for many reasons. 

Cognitive load. Frees up mental space and reduces the mental effort and capacity required to process information and perform mental tasks. Leaders can focus more on critical and strategic issues, making better decisions and improving our well-being.

Targeted attention. Lets school leaders lock in on important matters that align with goals and vision. This enhanced focus on critical issues leads to more impactful leadership, creating a perpetual cycle of highly motivational small wins.

Time management. Offers greater sense of control over our time. Mundane tasks trap significant amounts of limited resources, robbing us of our essential leadership priorities. By offloading these tasks, school leaders can better manage time, leading to improved work-life balance.

Less stress. Eases high-anxiety challenges that stem from the complexity and importance of our roles. Offloading trivial tasks can alleviate much of the angst, as leaders feel less worried about completing the administrivia, enabling us to focus instead on innovation and professional skills.

More efficiency. It nurtures greater productivity. This, in turn, allows school leaders to accomplish more in less time, fostering a sense of accomplishment and well-being.

Additional tips

Ethical considerations. AI tools like chatbots bring certain risks and challenges. Ensure that privacy and security policies are in place to protect sensitive information, and use caution with regard to legal considerations of AI in schools.

Voice. As I discuss in this article, any generated context must include your voice. Generative AI tends to sound mechanical and redundant. AI can produce a draft, but leaders must revise as necessary to match your voice. This is not only important; it must be unconditional. 

Opportunities for school leaders to achieve greater efficiency and productivity by offloading administrative tasks to a chatbot must be optimized in order to truly lead and support teaching and learning in your school. By integrating AI tools into daily work, school leaders can focus on embracing opportunities to innovate and create the best learning experiences for a great start to the year, and beyond.


Michael Gaskell, Ed.D., is the author of a new book, “Radical Principals,” and a veteran principal in New Jersey working at Central Elementary School in East Brunswick.

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own. 



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