First Year Survival Tips for a School Principal
As a new principal at a school, the first year is usually very intimidating and demanding. Both staff and students are on the mission to discover your strengths while trying to create a good impression of themselves. Your job as a principal now involves striking a balance between building relationships, improving certain things and finding out what every other person is doing well. In order to achieve this, you must be ready to invest a large chunk of your time and pay attention to your environment. Irrespective of your expertise, every new school principal should not expect things to be exactly as they were in their old school.
The differences in schools is what makes the first years for any new principal the study year. So, below are some tips to help you make it through through your first year as a new school principal.
- Know the Superintendent’s Expectations
The superintendent and the principal must always be on the same page at all times. Therefore, it is absolutely difficult to be a productive school principal if you are not on a common ground with the superintendent. Understanding their expectations at all times and having a good relationship with them is an important step to you becoming a successful principal. Your superintendent is the boss, you don’t have to totally agree with them but whatever they say, stands!
- Be Organized
To be a productive principal, you must be organized. Organization is a skill that must be possessed by every leader as the lack of it can result to confusion within yourself and with your followers. In a school setting, chaos is one thing that should not be tolerated and this is the fruit of disorganization. An unorganized leader is only a disaster waiting to happen.
- Build a Plan of Attack
Don’t just assume that you know how much work you have to do, it could get really overwhelming if you don’t have a strategy. Creating a plan or a to-do list is the only way to make sure you are prepared during the first year at your new school. Do not underestimate the place of prioritization, as this is very crucial. Create a checklist for all the plans you need to complete, alongside deadlines for their completion. Make good use of the time when there are no students because once they come into the picture, the possibility of sticking to your schedule is reduced.
- Know your Teachers
This set of people can either contribute to your success or failure. This doesn’t mean that you should try to be everybody’s best friend, but it is very important that you earn the respect of your teachers. Get to know all of them individually, their expectations of you and also tell them your intentions early. Be ready to support your teachers at all times except when it is impossible to do so. The earlier you build a strong foundation for a good working relationship with the teachers, the higher your chances of surviving the first year.
- Learn and Accept the Community and District Traditions
Just like every community and school is different, the traditions, principles and beliefs also differ. As a new principal, learn to accept these traditions and save yourself the trouble of answering questions from alumni for changing the long standing order of events for this year’s homecoming week celebration. If you must make any changes, ensure that you run it by a board of parents, teachers, community members and students. Let them know your reasons for making the change and allow them to give their opinions. This way, you don’t have to shoulder the decision making process by yourself.
- Know your Support Staff
This includes all the staff who run the affairs of the school behind the scenes. They include the security officers, custodians, administrative assistant and maintenance personnel. These people often know the ins and outs of the school and as a new principal, you will need a lot of information from them to run the daily operations smoothly. So, get to know them individually because they can be very resourceful.
- Introduce yourself to Community Members, parents and students
Your relationship with the stakeholders of the school is very crucial just like your relationship with the teachers. Building a strong relationship with the community members, parents and students begins with a first impression. You need to be respected not just by the teachers but by the whole community as well. People’s perception usually becomes their reality and an effective principal is one who is respected by all.
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