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Take Five for...

Offering Advice and Experience
To First-Year Principals


"Every principal knows it, but some forget it: Is it good for the kids? That simple question should be the litmus test. It should guide all the decisions you make." (Jim Thompson)

"Don't forget that there's a wealth of talent around you. Staff members who are adept at scheduling could use their expertise to help devise a master schedule; staff members who are well known in the community might request volunteers or donations for school events; those who are good organizers could be tapped to organize an after-school parent activity, a Family Math Night, a carnival, or an ice-cream social. Find out what people's talents are and put them to work for the good of the children and the school. Even disgruntled employees have talents, and approaching them for their help just might turn them around. Everyone loves to feel important and needed." (Bonita Henderson)

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As an experienced principal, have you a piece of advice to share with principals who are just starting out? What have you learned that might help them out? Click to join the conversation. Share your thoughts and ideas so others might learn from your experiences.

"Remember the school ran OK before you got there, and it will run OK after you leave. Many individuals guide the ship. Find them and solicit their thoughts. Those individuals include the school custodian, the secretary, the bus driver, even the kid who's always in trouble." (Laura Crochet)

Listening is especially important advice for first-time principals or principals who are new to a school. "It is important for any new administrator to gather input from those who have been on staff at the school for some time. Ask [the staff] about what is working in the school and what is not. Meet with people individually, talk with them, get some insight. [And] don't try to change everything overnight." (Phil Shaman)

Don't lose sight of you own family over your school family. "Make sure that time with your family is listed as an important priority appointment on your calendar; at least once a week is best!" (Melody Nichols)

Take Five more to read this entire article from Education World's "Principal Files" series:
"Veteran Principals Offer Advice to New Colleagues"
(Education World -- August 28, 2001)