Advice to a New Administrator
May 31, 2011 11 Comments
This post is in response to Justin Tarte’s piece entitled, “The journey continues…” First of all, congratulations on your appointment as an Assistant Principal. It is an honour and a privilege and I know you will do a great job. After working as an Assistant Principal for the last five years, I would like to briefly share a few things with you, and with any newly appointed administrators.
Most importantly – Be True to Yourself! – you were hired because of who you are. You are a great teacher and leader because of who you are, and what you have learned. I made the mistake in my first year as an AP to try to be someone that I was not…didn’t work. If something is funny, don’t be afraid to laugh. If you think something is ridiculous, speak up.
Treat your school as if it were your home – I started my day this morning by going for a great run (from school). When I returned, I pulled quack grass out of the front flower bed of the school and then picked up several pieces of garbage. If things get broken in the school, have them fixed immediately. If you have grafitti painted on school property, have it dealt with right away. This general rule also applies to student behviour. I often ask kids, “Would you do that in your own house?”
Servant leadership – lead by example and lead by serving others. The job of the AP is to serve teachers and students, while making the Principal (and the school) look as good as possible. As an AP, sometimes we have to roll up our sleeves and help out however we can. It could mean stacking chairs after an assembly or helping to decorate. Later this morning, I am going over to the parish with our custodian to pick up some heavy items which were left there after this past weekend’s grad activities.
Relationships – so important! The relationships that you have with staff, students, parents, and the community at large are key to your success as an administrator.
Listen – you will get interrupted a hundred times a day by staff and students who want to talk to you. Even if you have 53 000 things that you need to get done, make time to listen. Many times, people don’t want you to solve their problem, they just want someone to listen.
Us and Them – now you are one of “them”. You can’t change it, you just have to accept it. When you walk up to a group of teachers, they will stop talking…just the way it is. I always thought that it would never happen to me…but it did. Also, in this category is the fact that staff will often tell you what they want you to hear, rather than the truth. Here’s a secret though…there are a few people on staff who will be your allies and will tell you exactly how it is…use these people as your critical friends.
Deligate and empower the people around you – there is no better way to get things running smoothly. I have found that if staff and students have ownership of a certain initiative, it will flourish and will continue to exist long after you have left that building.
Spend time in the classrooms – this is where it all happens! There is no better way to get a sense of what is going on in your school. Give teachers feedback on some of the cool things that are happening in their rooms.
Collaboration – you already know how to do that! There is no possible way that you can know everything yourself. Develop a network of people who can help you out. Don’t be afraid to ask questions…
I hope this helps. If there are other administrators out there who want to add something, please leave a comment.