9 Traits for Principals
Teachers were recently asked - What do you need most in a school leader? Nine themes consistently showed up in teachers' answers:
- Trust and protect your teaching staff by supporting them and involving them in all aspects of decision making. Their craft is too important to our students to leave them alone.
- Stay connected to the classroom. Visit often. Teach each semester for a few hours. Everyone will respect you better if you walk a little in their roles. You'll also appreciate the details more.
- Build your staff. Not train. Know them, their strengths. Talk with them - not small talk, but about their craft. Admire them, challenge them, and build on their strengths...teachers have so many!
- Have their back. Every moment of every day, teachers have to be on top of their game. Everyone can criticize and attack them from legislators to the public to the media... Be their support - we are on the same team, with the same purpose. Let them solve problems with parents before you try to step in.
- Fairness underlines trust. Don't show favorites, don't judge without good information. Assume good intentions for all, and treat all with openness and respect.
- Stand firm on discipline. Collaboratively establish expectations, and don't change those expectations because you feel outside pressure. Outside pressure? That's their world every day. Don't override teacher decisions for your political gain.
- Time is more valuable than money in education because we can control it better. Don't drag on meetings. Don't send emails over a paragraph long. Use a shared calendar and plan events and meetings weeks or months in advance...not 48 hours.
- Give teachers access to you, often. Do coaches talk with their players at every practice? Of course. See your teachers every day. Recognize them and their hard work, and be open to helping solve small problems...before they become toxic problems.
- Expect a lot from everyone. You set the tone for excellence, don't allow great teachers to be dragged down by mediocre peers.
Read here for a list of what effective leadership is not!