These tips for principals have made many administration teams more successful and have helped them to establish leadership in their schools.
We’ve compiled 25 tips for principals based on reviewing key and common traits of leaders we’ve spoken with and who have contributed ideas. There are undoubtedly dozens more tips for principals and we welcome your input.
1. Maintain a positive attitude.
Of all the tips for principals, this is listed first because it’s usually the most important. You set the stage for your school just as your teachers set the stage for their classrooms.
2. Pick your battles.
Realize that not every issue needs to be addressed. Identify what you stand for and fight for what is important.
3. Be your own cheerleader.
Constantly tell yourself, “You can do it!” Find within yourself the strength and courage to keep going.
4. Don’t expect to win the popularity contest.
Decisions you have to make will never please everyone. Do what’s right, not what will help others like you.
5. Understand that schools build character.
An effective leader has the power to help students and teachers grow and learn in profound ways.
6. Put students first.
Don’t let media or political agendas get in the way of deciding what’s best for your students’ needs and learning.
7. Connect with other principals and administrators
Find out what they are doing in their school. See what is and isn’t working for them and come up with solutions together.
8. Embrace technology.
Realize that it’s here to stay… now learn how to become a leader in it.
9.Keep the central office informed.
“Downtown” can be your allies or your critics, so be sure to ask for advice and let them know stories of your journey along the way.
10. Acknowledge and respect your predecessors.
Keep in mind that ghosts of the past can haunt the school.
11. Remember the #1 rule of customer service.
When it comes to your students, faculty, and parents you should always kill them with kindness.
12. Once you walk across the Principal threshold, relationships change.
Recognize that you are now viewed as the ultimate authority in school by parents, former colleagues, and students.
13. Don’t change anything the first year.
Focus on personal learning by observing and building relationships. Teachers resent change, so make sure that any change you later propose had better be worth it and acknowledged by most as needed.
14. Meet with your faculty regularly.
Prepare teachers ahead of time about what will be discussed, and be respectful of people’s time. Keep the meetings short if at all possible.
15. Assign leadership roles
Design a school-wide discipline plan with your teacher leaders and decide who will handle what and what will be the penalties for a range of behavior infractions.
16. Don’t think teachers want you as their friend
They need someone who will make sure the school is running properly.
17. Write notes of appreciation
Never devalue the simple act of thanking your staff for doing a great job.
18. Refer angry parents to speak to the teacher first
If a problem is not resolved after talking to the teacher; have them contact you to help improve the situation.
19. Offer teachers meaningful professional development
Make sure that anything presented to them is worth their time and effort.
20. Don’t forget to invest in your own professional development
Spend time reflecting on your leadership, continue to learn by reading, attending professional meetings, and conversing with other administrators.
21. Accept that you are not perfect
And also realize that this concept applies to others as well.
22. Don’t be a workaholic
Take care of yourself and your teachers. Encourage your staff to go home to a healthy and balanced life.
23. Have a vision for your school
You must believe in your vision if you hope to inspire your staff to get on board with the same goals.
24. Embrace new ideas
If you or one of your teachers discover something new, get everyone involved by learning and exploring together.
25. Always remember that communication is key
Observations with formative feedback go a long way in helping your teachers meet your expectations.
For more useful tips for principals, you can do a Web search or head over to a fairly active site called Connected Principals, where you’ll find ongoing conversations among leading principals from around the country.
So, what do you think about our list of tips for principals? Do these tips ring true for you? Share your stories with us.
Or, better yet, make your own tips for principals and share them with others.
Principals, do you agree or disagree with our list of tips for principals? More importantly, what can you add to it?
Teachers, how do you feel when an administrator does one of the things above?