Hi, I’m Sandy Blazer, Senior Consultant for Focused Schools. In June I retired after 33 years in education, the last 25 of them spent in what I consider to be the best job ever: The principalship. In the quarter-century I served as principal, I learned a lot. As I continued to grow as a site leader, I found there were several actions that I could take that would allow me to continue to thrive in what I believe is one of the very most important and influential positions in education.
Top ten things I did that allowed me to LOVE my job and continue to THRIVE as principal:
1. Get into classrooms every day. I know you know why this is extremely important. I also know that not getting into classrooms is the thing principals feel most guilty about. Just say no to guilt and get in those rooms!
2. Be empathetic. It really helps. Especially during those conferences that you know are going to be tough.
3. Return all phone calls and respond to all emails daily. You will get a lot of credit and, in some cases, you will keep a problem from getting worse.
4. Whenever possible meet teachers in their classrooms rather than in your office. Teachers appreciate the extra effort and being in “their space” leads to a more open conversation.
5. Leaders are everywhere in your school. Find them. Nurture them. Ensure they have the tools to lead others. They will accelerate the work and give you perspective you would not get on your own.
6. Find the people and places around your school that make you smile and give you joy. Seek out these people and places at least once every day. Twice on the hard days!
7. Take care of yourself. Do something every day for your physical and mental well being. For me, it had to occur before school if I wanted any chance of pulling it off.
8. Apologize when you mess up. The mess ups make us human and principals are (super)human!
9. When planning a meeting, consider the time you need to plan to be double that of the meeting. Teachers LOVE excellent meetings. Not kidding.
10. Make at least one positive phone call to a parent and hand write one positive note to a teacher each week. You will feel great and they will feel great. Win-win! Here’s to you loving your principalship as much as I did!