Every day when I walk into my school, my number one objective is to be a better leader than I was the day before. My second objective is to make sure that I add value to someone’s life. As a principal, my job is to be present, be accessible, be active, and to be among the people. One of the sayings that I held true when I was a teacher was that teaching happened on my feet not in my seat. The same is true for me as a principal. Leading happens on the field not in the locker room. It would be unheard of for a coach to call plays from the locker room while watching the game live stream. The same is true if a principal is making decisions about the school from their office. The principal should spend the majority of his or her day out in the field. How will you know what to lead if you are not observing where all the action is taking place?
Someone reading this might ask, “How will I get my work done if I don’t spend time in my office?” It is amazing how much work never makes it to your office if you are out of your office and in the school. Try it. So many things come to the office because the principal is not out coaching and giving feedback. As the principal, you have a broader view and a deeper knowledge of the game being played. You see many pieces of the puzzle, which equips you to use your insight, knowledge, skills, and provide resources to help others grow. In order to get tasks and projects complete, I schedule office time so that I am able to complete the “tasks” that only the principal can complete. If someone else can do it, I delegate it. This allows me to spend most of my “time” being the principal because no one else in the building can do that but me. I carry a back pack at all times so I can work remotely from classrooms. Office time is reserved for tasks that require full attention without interruptions.
Being the principal means spending time each day building relationships with students, staff and parents through the giving and receiving feedback. Building relationships only happens through visibility, accessibility, and active engagement. Remember, even though a school has many teachers, assistant principals and support staff, there is only one principal. Recognize the influence you have on the organization and seek to maximize your influence daily.
Challenge: Spend the whole day in the building. Reflect on what you see and what your learned. Act on your reflection and make the necessary coaching moves to improve your school.