I can’t believe you are now an assistant principal. Remember two years ago, when you thought that principal sounded like the worst job in the world, and assistant principal was even worse? Guess you’re eating your words now.
But seriously, a lot has changed in the past few years, and I know you are excited for this new role. I also now how important it is to you to become a successful leader. Therefore, as teacher-you, I want to give you a little advice to keep in mind as you become removed from daily classroom life. I want to remind you of the things you wished your administrators did. I want you to remember what you appreciated, and what you wish they had done differently, so that it can help guide your actions. Therefore, the following is my advice of what I would want from you if you were my principal.
Everyone wants to be appreciated. I work hard day in and day out to create engaging lessons, support challenging students, provide feedback, contact parents, meet with teams, etc. Yes, you have a lot to do as a building administrator. But really, us teachers are the ones who make the school run successfully. We just want to know that you appreciate our hard work, and you think we’re doing a good job. Don’t patronize, don’t dismiss our concerns, and don’t forget how hard it is to meet the needs of all the students in the classroom. Say thank you, give a compliment, write a quick email. It means a lot.
Be in classrooms often
I want a principal who is in my room often enough that they see the good work I do on a daily basis. Then if you pop in and a student is having a bad day, or I’m at my desk while students are testing, you can put that moment in the context of all the other amazing lessons and classes you have seen. I don’t want the only times I see you to be formal evaluations. Be visible and around often. Know the great things that go on in classrooms every day, not just during a formal evaluation.
Build leadership and be transparent
Teachers in the building want a say in how the school operates and the decisions that get made. Provide me with many opportunities for leadership, even outside of the formal titles. If I don’t get department chair, can I help plan professional development sessions, can I coordinate committees, can I support scheduling or testing? Share the leadership and let us take ownership in our building.
Likewise, I recognize that not everyone can always get their way. But please be transparent in your decision making. We may not always agree with the decisions you always make, but help us understand the factors and reasoning behind the decisions. This way we know that our opinions have been heard, it can help us better support the decision, and we can feel more like team members.
In conclusion, you’ve got a lot of learning ahead of you. You won’t always be perfect, and you’re going to have to accept that. But knowing you like I do, I think you’ll be great. Good luck.