Feed the Principals and Build the Schools!

Build school culture and success by leading your principals with these strategies!

I once heard the book titled something like, Feed Your Teachers or They'll Eat the Students. The gist of it was this: build a healthy work environment, and teachers will get the most learning out of the students. To do this, teachers need:
  • Support
  • Affirmation
  • Professional learning
  • Positive feedback
  • Coaching feedback
  • Listening
I think you'll agree, these are the basics for a healthy school culture. You'll also agree the same is true at the leadership level.

Feed Your Principals, or They'll Eat Your Teachers

Your principals want the same as teachers - to be successful!

Wait a second, that's the same desire held by district leaders and community members.

So why do principals often act in ways that reveal detrimental dispositions? Dispositions and actions that undermine success. Such as:
  • Fear of being judged harshly.
  • Insecurity about their success.
  • Need for control.
  • Reaction to unforeseen problems.
The answer is...

...they need to be fed. In a leadership culture that builds.

I don't mean being fed donuts and fruit at the meetings...though that's nice too.

Feed Your Leadership Culture

You can feed principals by building a leadership culture. In this culture, the focus is on:
  • Building lines of two-way communication.
  • Creating routine and systemic times for collaboration among principals, deans, and assistant principals.
  • Focusing on growth oriented outcomes.
  • Asking about strategic decisions at the campus.
  • Making expectations clear and objective.
  • Clarifying expectations about big picture.
  • Giving autonomy to the action items.
  • Building innovation and professional decision-making with autonomy.

Focus on Best Leadership Practices

  1. Discipline
  2. Affirmation
  3. Outreach
  4. Input
  5. Involvement in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
  6. Communication


If you have a plan, if you have goals, focus on them. Maintain the course. 

There are a thousand great things that everyone else is doing, focus on supporting what your schools are doing.


Recognize and celebrate the strengths and successes of your principals. Acknowledge schools that learn from failure and maintain a growth mindset.


Speak out and speak positively for the schools. You lead principals...be their public cheerleader. Their success is your success!


Involve teachers in your leadership decisions. Involve assistant and associate principals. Model input for the principal. Invite it from the principals.

Involvement in CIA

Ask principals about the curriculum teams on their campus. What areas of the curriculum and instruction are they improving? What assessment data are they using to measure growth? Not proficiency, not an improvement, but growth. Be knowledgeable about the differences.


Model open communication by using formal surveys, casual chats with teachers in the halls, and questions among the assistant principals. Ask principals how they open lines of communication with their staff and community. Affirm their efforts and offer suggestions for more communication...staff never can have too much communication!

No one wants failure in schools. With that in mind, we can assume good intentions and use these strategies to build success in schools!

There are so many ways to "feed the principals". What ways work for you? What ways does the vary based on the principal? How is it impacting campus climate and culture?

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