There is no doubt that for a school to be successful, the administration, teachers, parents, students and support staff must work as a team. Principals must work with the staff to make school a welcoming place for all students and their families. However, ‘great’ principals believe that the problems of the school are their problems, and they never stop trying to solve them. If a student is having trouble learning, a successful principal knows it is her job to figure out why, whether it is a teaching methodology issue, learning disability, trouble with attendance, gang involvement or drugs.
Great principals are also creative in their problem-solving and approach challenges with an entrepreneurial attitude. They find ways to implement good ideas, rather than accepting the status quo.
Whatever challenges they face, great principals don’t make excuses for why their schools can’t succeed. Instead they make it their top priority to figure out how their schools can excel, and do everything they can to make that happen.
Great principals lead teaching and learning at their schools
Principals at successful schools understand the strengths and needs of their students and they know what is happening in the classrooms at their schools. These principals play an active role in planning and supporting instruction that is appropriate for their students, and they ensure that school time and resources are focused on student achievement.
Great principals develop and retain excellent teachers
One of a principal’s most important roles is ensuring that every student is taught by an excellent teacher. Although it can be time-consuming, principals must actively recruit good teachers to their schools. Principals can visit teacher education classes to find promising new teachers; they can open their schools to student teachers and try to hire the good ones; and they can talk to teachers and other principals to find quality experienced teachers who might be looking for new positions.
Principals must also support and develop the teachers they have. Research shows that principal leadership is a key factor in a teacher’s decision to stay at a particular school. Much of a principal’s time should be spent in classrooms observing teachers, complimenting their strengths, and offering specific suggestions for improvement. If a teacher is struggling with a particular issue or group of kids, the principal should be in the classroom as often as possible, watching and helping the teacher develop more successful strategies.
Providing meaningful opportunities for professional development is another way principals can help teachers improve instruction. The principal should make sure that workshops and other development activities are related to the goals of the school and will help teachers better serve their students.
Great principals build a strong school community
For a school to be successful, the administration, teachers, parents, students and support staff must work as a team. Principals must work with the staff to make school a welcoming place for all students and their families.
Questions to ask at your school?
Ask the principal:
- What challenges does the school face?
- What is the plan to meet those challenges?
- What are our school’s main academic goals?
- What steps are being taken to achieve those goals
- How do you recruit new teachers when there is an opening?
- How are great teachers at our school recognized or rewarded?
- How can I get involved to help at the school?
Ask your child:
- Do you feel safe at school?
- Do you think school rules and consequences are clear? Are all kids treated fairly?
Ask your child’s teacher:
- How does your principal solve the problem when a child gets into trouble?
- How much time does the principal spend observing in your classroom?
A great school community is one where students feel safe and know they will be treated fairly. It is the principal’s job to create that safe atmosphere where ALL children can learn.
It is also where teachers feel loved, appreciated, motivated and ready to meet with children’s needs. Finally, it is a community where parents can be rest assured that their child/children’s needs are met with the utmost desire to groom humble, well-rounded and well-behaved successful people.