Monday, June 4, 2012

What makes a great principal?

A couple weeks ago, @stumpteacher wrote a great blog post titled, "Do we need principals?" This question obviously stirred up quite a conversation not only through twitter discussions, but also through comments on blogs. There were even blog posts written in response to Josh's question like this one by @jmarkeyAP who vehemently claims, YES, we do need principals.

For the 2012-2013 school year I will be assuming the role of principal at a junior high of almost 800 students, so I am very interested in this discussion. Though I think I understand Josh's angle in asking this question, I still would argue that we need building level administrators. I will also take it a step further and say we need building level administrators who have had a strong classroom teaching experience, as well as a strong desire to be a lifelong learner while modeling and demonstrating their learning for all to see.

Do we need principals? I say yes, but I think we need more; we don't just need principals, we need GREAT principals...

As I do with many questions I'm having, I tap into my PLN. So, last night I sent out a tweet:

Here is what I found about being a great principal:

- Great principals trust the people they hire. (@urbanlad)

- Great principals notice how each individual member contributes to the school. Great principals explain the WHY before the what. (@becky_Ellis_)

- Great principals call you by name and know your position. (@ecmmason)

- Great principals insulate teachers from arbitrary and political dictates from above. (@phillipcantor)

- Great principals empower staff members to take risks and try new things. They support staff when they make mistakes. (@hatcherelli)

- Great principals are there when you need them. They are the first to arrive, and the last to leave. Great principals know serving others is the most part of leadership. (@justintarte)

- Great principals focus on communication. All great schools are great because information flows both smoothly and easily throughout the building. (@techforschool)

- One of my favorites quotes by @toddwhitaker about principals is, "when the principal sneezes, the whole school catches a cold. This is neither good nor bad; it is just the truth."

What do you think makes a great principal? What would you add to this list?