Thursday, December 15, 2016

Stuff I've Learned as a Principal

I have been a principal for six years.  Here is some stuff I have learned:

Teachers who consistently maintain a positive attitude are worth their weight in gold.

Lunch ladies can make some really good cinnamon rolls.

If you are sick... or if you have to stay home with a sick child... the school will go on without you.

Do not allow yourself to be consumed with tardies and dress code.  These will always be with you and there are meaningful things in the school that deserve your energy.

Everyone in the school matters -- every student and every adult.  Learn as many names as you can.

If you neglect to tell someone good morning when you pass them in the hallway... they will remember it, and may remind you about it later.

Sometimes teachers and students need a little time apart.

There are many circumstances... and they are always extenuating.

It is usually not a good thing to make unilateral decisions.  You will almost always make better decisions by talking to people.

The school assembly that you arranged for will impact something else in the school day that you have not yet thought about.

Math teachers don't like to write.

It's important to make time for shenanigans.  The school is a better place to work when you cut up and have fun with the other adults in the building.

Students like to see administrators in their classrooms.

Teachers don't always read all your emails thoroughly. (That will frustrate you... but it's not the end of the world.)

It's important to extend grace to teachers when they don't do everything they are supposed to do... just like principals expect teachers to extend grace to their students.

Have a teacher proof read your important emails before you send them out to the entire staff.

Teachers love to wear jeans.  Seriously... some teachers really do love their jeans.

Positive energy goes a long way.

Teachers won't change what they're doing if you don't give them feedback.

Teachers have families outside of school... and they need to take care of them.

If you go to a game or a concert... everyone will notice, and everyone will appreciate it.

Kids who feel embarrassed often times become disrespectful.

It's best to reward collectively and punish individually.

If you do not love the students, and if you do not love the teachers, you should not be a principal.

Do not go in teachers' classrooms the day before a holiday break unless you're playing a game with the kids.

Sometimes go into classes and play games with kids.

When teachers have cool ideas, figure out a way for them to "run with them."

Make a note of staff birthdays.

As you're walking the halls with visitors, it's good to introduce them to the custodians.

Capitalize on the talents and passions of the adults in the building.  This is one of the most important things you do.

There is no substitute for being in the hallways during class change... and the other times as well.

Students respect authenticity... and so do teachers.

Learn to say, "I'm not sure" ... and "I'll look into that."  You will say these things a lot.

Teachers appreciate it every time you follow through.  They will usually remember the times you don't.

It is important to assume that the adults in the building want to do a good job.  Treat them that way.

Remember that respect is never given because of a title; it is earned because of a relationship.

No program in the school will ever exceed the passion of the adults implementing it.

Listen to students.

Put yourself in situations to hear about awesome ideas from other principals.

Positive recognition, praise, validation -- these things never get old.  And everyone needs them.

Secretaries know a lot.

Someone always throws the first punch... but it takes two to tango.

It's important to give teachers the benefit of the doubt.

Start and end your meetings on time.

Being a school principal is a very cool job... and I plan to continue learning.


  1. Enjoyed your thoughts. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Danny- your words describe the essence of servant leadership; this blog, and YOU inspire me. Thank you.

  3. "If you are sick... or if you have to stay home with a sick child... the school will go on without you." - true, but don't forget to check on and thank those subs

  4. Why do you say math teachers do not like to write?

    1. The math teacher I have been around have not like to write. I realize there are probably many math teachers who could prove me wrong.

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  6. I always love reading your thoughts! Thank you for making me smile and remember what it's all about - all learners. Gosh, I love my calling!

  7. Love this post. Thanks for sharing

  8. I loved this. Thank you for sharing. Do you have any advice for a teacher looking to make the jump into administration?

  9. I loved this post. I have shared it with our teachers as well. Thank you for your insight.

  10. Great post. I have also found these to be true but the most important of these being relationships. Without that, nothing else happens. Thanks Danny.

  11. I loved this post! I always begin my school day with reading your post. they all make me feel proud to be a teacher and make me keep learning all the time . And making a DIfference in others life
    I have tried many of your ideas and have seen a great change in me and my kids ... your ideas have make me grow as a teacher.
    Keep posting and sharing .. thanks to Twitter which has given an opportunity to meet a positive and an enthusiastic teacher/ principal / an inspirer / and most amazingly an amazing sharer( of thoughts) .

    Keep posting and spreading the wonderful ideas!

  12. Than you Danny As usual your wonderful comments influence us headteachers over the pond. Please keep them coming. Trudie

  13. Thank you for the great work and ambition for the education career. Ranked 3rd on Rediff's list of "Top Bollywood Female Stars" in 2014, Kareena Kapoor Khan has received six Filmfare Awards out of fifteen nomination for her performance in numerous films.