There is a definite certainty about a principal’s day: nothing is typical! A principal should and will schedule a complete day of classroom visits, attending grade-level meetings with teachers, IEP meetings, observations, a parent meeting or two, but often within 10 minutes of students arriving (sometimes before) the principal will many times find themselves immersed in unannounced meetings, sometimes crisis, or those phone calls from your district office wanting something yesterday.
The key for the principal having an effective day is to remember a few things: (1) the principal is the instructional leader, and therefore needs to be in classrooms observing student learning (2) the principal is often viewed as the “face” of the school. That means the principal needs to be out during student arrival and dismissal, and people hear the principal during morning and afternoon announcements.
So the principal schedules classroom walk-throughs for the morning after announcements, but then two buses break down and are late for school. The phones are ringing off the hook with angry parents wanting to know what you are going to do about it. The principal is responsible for delegating someone to get in touch with transportation while he/she uses a texting program to let parents know of the delay. In addition, the principal announces to teachers to let them know students will be arriving late, and alerting the cafeteria workers to keep breakfast out for the late arrivals.
After those unexpected events are handled, the principal needs to get back on his/her schedule. Another essential tool for the principal to stay afloat during the day is keeping up-to-date on the many emails received without being chained to the office desk. A mobile device that receives email will allow the principal to get out of the office and into classrooms while keeping the inbox overflowing and communicating immediately on emergency issues.
The key to remember for the principal is in ending the day. Afterschool is the time teachers will be lined up at the principal’s door to discuss things with the principal. As principal, you have to spend the time with the employees, and it is usually the best time to have a conversation without constant interruptions. When the teacher brings you the work of a student who has struggled all year, but the teacher puts down a writing sample from August, and then one from April that shows tremendous growth for the student, you want to celebrate the student and the teacher for keeping expectations high for all students. Many times, it will seem that teachers just bring problems to the principal’s office, but there are always these success stories that get everyone energized.
The principal needs to go through all voicemails and try to answer all the emails, but it is important the principal maintains a balanced life. There is enough work to keep you there all night, but the reality is much of it can wait until the next day. Keeping a balance life helps the principal stay fresh and focused for the fast-paced events of each day!