Category Archives: leadership

Reflections of a First-Year Principal

Today is officially the last day of my first year as a principal. Every crazy, inspiring, funny moment from the past year is permanently etched in my memory and will inspire and inform my decisions next year and beyond. The lessons I’ve learned and skills I’ve developed are many, but there are some things that stand out as the most important points to identify as I sum up this year and move forward.

Leadership develops from the ground up. My staff and students dictate what I do, and being in tune to their needs helps me lead and support them. I need to constantly check in with them to assess what is working in our school and what is not.

Developing a thick skin as a leader is essential, but you must work just as hard to keep your heart intact on the inside. Principals are bombarded with a lot of negatives: difficult students, sad home situations, disgruntled parents. The job is emotionally draining, and it is important not to get too absorbed in every hardship experienced by students, staff, and families. At the same time, it is important to maintain compassion and empathy when dealing with unfortunate situations. Balancing an openness to distress with an emotional detachment to remain strong is a constant challenge.

Setting high expectations for all fosters a growth mindset and helps ensure that everyone is working toward their his or her greatest potentials. Both children and adults will perform at the level where you expect the least capable member of the group to function. Believe that everyone can achieve greatness, and most will reach that level of performance. It isn’t enough to just articulate what you expect. A good leader needs to be ready to provide assistance and resources, as well.

Relationships are everything. All members of the school community needs to feel that they are unique, valued, and have a voice. Through developing relationships with students, staff members, and parents, a school leader cultivates trust. That trust motivates individuals to work harder and take risks using their unique talents. In turn, a positive school culture emerges when people feel that their principal supports them and cares about their well-being.

With my first year of learning as a foundation, I look forward to using this insight to make the second year even better than the first!

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Be the Principal of Change

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Tomorrow is my first official day as a principal, and Gahndi’s words keep reverberating in my head. This is my chance to lead and innovate and positively influence all who enter my school. Because I feel I was called to administration as I was with teaching, I cannot help but reflect back on my first day as a teacher. As a new teacher, I wanted to make an impact. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of learners and build capacity in them to reach their greatest potentials. I wanted to seek out and design effective and engaging teaching methods. I wanted to be the kind of teacher that I would want for myself and my children. I wanted to “be the change” rather than just talk about change.

So, what does it mean to “be the change” as a principal? It means to let every action reflect my beliefs and ideals. It means to be accountable and responsible, not making excuses. It means to lead with commitment and heart. It means to put ideas into action. It means to do and be rather than just talk.

In the spirit of Gahndi, I hope that my leadership changes others for the better. As I begin my term as a principal, my goal is that others will see the following actions reflected in my words, actions, and principles.

  • Be supportive
  • Be accessible
  • Be visible
  • Be fair
  • Be collaborative
  • Be kind, caring, and respectful
  • Be an example
  • Be with students
  • Be a good communicator