Photo Credit: PHOTO ♥ BOOTHJust saw this post on twitter, 50 Success Tips for Principals, and got to thinking. How do I remember 50 tips about anything? I mean do I need 50 tips to be a good dad? How about 50 tips for saving energy. You're lucky if I remember one thing to do. Since, I've written before about focus, here's my list of successful tips for principals and I'm going to distill them down to three.
Here we go.
1. Have a Positive Attitude - Now, if you went to the 50 tips link above you may have noted that this is also #1 on their list, but I promise I did think of it before these guys. A Positive Attitude does a world of good. One of the parents in my son's boy scout troop was reading a book on wilderness survival, and you'll never guess what the most important thing you can do to survive - that's right - Have a Positive Attitude. A positive attitude has a profound effect on you and everyone you lead. You will face many challenges in the Principal's seat and you only have control over one thing - your response. A positive attitude will help you absorb the challenges of the work both small and great and encourage those around to pursue the most positive course for students.
2. Make the People Around you Better - A former Principal I worked with years ago once said, "The job of the Principal is to do nothing". Now, that is not an incentive for lazy administrators, but an acknowledgment that the people who actually run the schools are the teachers, secretaries, custodians, parents, and students. The Principal's job is to create the environment where all of these folks can do their job to the best of their ability. You'll need to get resources in their hands, build collaborative structures so they can work in teams and highlight their accomplishments every step of the way. It's also good to remember that when you finally leave that school, they will not remember the things you did, but how you made them feel. Did you make them feel competent, supported, encouraged, challenged?
3. Be a Student of Learning - Study your school. Study your curriculum. Study your teachers, students, and community. Read research. Read for pleasure. Listen to complaints, criticisms, and compliments. Learn, Learn Learn. The Principal should be the CLO (Chief Learning Officer) of the school. Model a willingness to change (isn't that learning?) and constantly look for new insights, ideas, and strategies to make your school better. Having a vision for your school comes from thinking about what is working and what could be better. It also involves looking outside your school for inspiration and ideas. The Principal as a learner is a powerful force for adult and student learning.
The principal job is extremely complex and sophisticated and can hardly be reduced to any list of things you can do. In fact, I was tempted to put as #3 Never make a list like this! However, some things are more important than others, and here is a great place to start. If I can learn something new every day, help one member of my staff get better today, and keep a positive attitude no matter what comes my way, success is sure to follow. If not, go back to that list of 50 things and try another one of those. They're actually pretty good.