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Dr. Tisha Shipley has been in education for over 23 years. She has taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, Gifted and Talented 3rd-6th Grades, Dr. Shipley was an elementary principal, a cheer coach, and was on...
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5 Tips and Tricks to Becoming a Better School Administrator

Through my years of teaching, I encountered three principals and 3-4 administrators. They were each so different and inspired me in many ways. There were rules, expectations, “buy-ins,” situations, and opportunities for me to learn. I had always aspired to be an administrator, so my first principal position was one of my favorites. I want to share with you some of the things I did that I learned from my supportive administrators. The goal for me was to always support, engage, encourage, and let my staff and faculty know that I supported them in all situations. That doesn’t mean that they were always right in making decisions, but I would support them and then we would discuss what to do.

Tips for administrators:

1. Get to know your faculty and staff. Each team member is an important and unique individual that will help build your school community.

2. Build Relationships. As a principal, you want your team to get along. You are all there for the common good, and that is the student and families you work with.

a. Have monthly luncheons. You can do this by having a potluck or dividing into teams and having a themed lunch such as Italian, Sub Sandwiches, or Mexican Food. Each group provides the meal that month.

b. Have monthly meetings and celebrate “personal” and “professional” accomplishments. Let others speak and get to know one another.

c. Have yearly secret pals. This does not have to cost a lot of money and will build relationships. It can even be a monthly note pal that encourages others to do their best and thanks them for being a good team member.

2. Let your teachers know you support them.

a. Provide professional development that is relevant to what they need to grow as professionals.

b. Take over lunch, hall, recess, and bus duties so your teachers can have extra time to plan or meet as a team and with other grade levels.

3. Handwritten notes. Each Friday, I would personally hand write each teacher and staff member a note that told them how much I appreciated them and enjoyed working with them. I always put a candy bar, popcorn, or some little treat in their mailbox with the note. I think it is important to engage with each teacher individually.

4. Be Visible

a. Be at the front of the building when the children enter and leave. Get to know each child’s name. Shake hands and welcome them. Show parents that drop their children off and pick their children up that you care.

b. Walk the halls and classrooms daily. This allows the teacher to see you understand what is going on in and out of the classroom. It shows the children that you are always there- this also eliminates discipline problems.

c. At the end of the day, do another walk through the building and see that each teacher had a great day and ask if you can help them in any way.

These are some of the things I vowed to do when I was a principal and even a director of a program at the university level. It was important to me that each team member understood their role but knew I supported them. Building a positive school environment can be a challenge, but as an administrator, you have the ability to change that and build relationships. Take at least one tip and try to implement this into your practice-it may have a positive influence, and it will make your faculty and staff feel appreciated.

5. Simply call them on the phone, go to their classroom, and have a conversation that is meaningful and engaging. Let them know you value what they are doing, their time commitment, and that you are there to support them in any way.

We know more than ever that teachers need the support of each other and the administration. What can you do to let your teachers know you support and appreciate them?

~ Tisha