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School principals have the tough job of keeping students, parents, teachers, administrative personnel and support staff satisfied with their educational experiences. As a principal, you must meet state requirements to ensure your students pass minimum academic standards and create an academic environment that is safe and suitable for learning. Your staff must comply with regulations and have the funds and resources they need to teach, train and encourage their students' academic pursuits. Even though you wear many hats, a strong support team is often your biggest advantage.
A principal needs a strong, effective staff to help get the job done. Establish goals to instruct, train and educate your teachers and administrative staff so they're well-equipped to meet student needs. Organize professional development programs, conduct teacher performance reviews and participate in classroom instruction and observation. One of your main objectives is to create a team-centered atmosphere that encourages excellence in all academic areas. Train your teachers on safety regulations, emergency evacuation plans and classroom procedures so they're prepared to handle unexpected situations.
A principal's main objective is to ensure the overall success of the school by using problem-solving skills and entrepreneurial tactics to provide the resources students and teachers need. For example, Margaret Chiu, principal of Galileo High School in San Francisco, partners with local businesses, colleges and health care professionals to ensure she has outside support to enhance her school's curriculum, according to GreatSchools.org. Set goals to build relationships within the community so you have outside resources to supplement your internal support system.
Create school policies that are firm, fair and consistent so teachers and staff can enforce them. Some regulations are established by school boards and state laws, such as student attendance policies, so you must educate administrators on those guidelines and report noncompliance. The goal is to create effective guidelines on disciplinary procedures, tardiness and academic achievement requirements so operations run smoothly. Create guidelines for teachers, such as lesson plan requirements, core curriculum assessments, parent-teacher communication tips and safety regulations. The objective is to create detailed policies so students, teachers and staff know what's expected.
Approachability and Accessibility
Always remain approachable and accessible so students, teachers, staff and parents can get your input, even when administrative responsibilities pull you in other directions. Your goal is to maintain a visible presence so others can communicate their concerns or needs or come to you for advice. Primary objectives are to be respected by students, admired by teachers and praised by parents, not for personal glory but for the benefit of the school. Set a goal to build relationships with students, parents and staff so you're viewed as more than an administrator -- you're viewed as their leader.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.
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