Updated: Nov 12, 2021
Good for you for taking on the challenging task of being principal! The principal sets the tone for the entire school environment. This would include the bus drivers, crossing guards, teachers, early childhood educators, educational assistants, volunteers serving breakfast at your school, parents, students, office administrators and custodial staff. That is a lot of hats to be wearing at one time! You are making decisions about schedules for educational assistants, for early childhood educators, for your teachers, for your lunchroom assistants, for audiologist and speech therapists and all the other support people that come in and out of our buildings, on a daily basis. You have taken on the challenge of juggling about 110 balls every single day and congratulations to you for standing up to that challenge!
Reach out for Support
Over a 40 year career, I have accumulated strategies that help ensure communication is consistent, frequent and transparent. I am so glad you landed on my site! It is important to remember, especially now, we cannot do this alone! Reach out for support, for tips and tricks! Learn from those around you, your colleagues, your staff and others like myself, who have gone before!
Read on for a few lessons I learned along my journey...
Communication is the Key
My first building block in creating a system of open communication between all parties at the school, is establishing one “road map” for all of us to follow. This map comes in the form of a 10 month calendar. Everyone receives a copy. The bus drivers, crossing guards, parents, staff, and students are provided with the same calendar. This calendar includes opportunities for each group to have direct communication with you. You will ensure that there is time for direct communication and many problems will be avoided as a result. On these calendars are your monthly meetings with staff, both at In-School Meetings and 1 staff meeting, 1 meeting with students over a lunch hour (Healthy School Committee Meeting), and 6 meetings when parents are invited in. It is always better to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to dealing with people of any age. Teachers have designated time schedules to share strategies with their colleagues as to how best service that little youngster sitting in his/her classroom. Once a month you will sit for a 50 minute meeting with all three divisions of your staff in an informal setting. I always use a circle so no one person is at the “head of the table”.
We are all here for the sole purpose of helping our students be successful.
Strategy break down
At the “In-School” meetings, you meet with teachers by division. staff members discuss an issue they are having and the rest of us brainstorm possible solutions. This way all staff understand that we are here as a team to help that individual be the best they can be. If we're a primary teacher, more than likely we have primary classes surrounding us when the kids are coming in and out from recess, coming in from the buses, when they are lining up and getting ready to go down to the gym or the library or out for a field trip. Each teacher in the vicinity is responsible for all of those children. No one is on their own and sometimes just knowing that the community around you is there to support you and help you with consistent strategies for that young person that may be struggling in some way can make the world of difference. It may be as simple as when “Luanne” is seen in the hallway, each teacher will say “Hello Luanne, how is your day going?” as you pass in the hallway. That may be all that child needs. To know that each one of the staff members they see on yard duty, or coming out for bus duty know their name let’s that child know that their cared about by the whole school community.
There are so many things to learn, give yourself a moment to breathe, to absorb all the information, demands and suggestions crowding in for your attention and remember your goal.
Keep that in the forefront of your vision as you journey.
Mistakes will be made - this is the ONE guarantee I can make you, but if your vision is clear and your focus is on your goal you will stay the course, Developing and Maintaining a Thriving School!