Being a principal is a very demanding job. Every principal will face frustrating moments, seemingly impossible deadlines, and will be expected to overcome enormous obstacles. However, in my experience as a principal at all levels, there are “10 Daily Essentials I Engaged in Daily.”
Wake Up Excited About the Day
Every morning when I awake, I’m not only filled with energy, excitement, and enthusiasm about being blessed to see another day, but elated that I’m in a leadership position to touch and change a child’s life and inspire teachers through their experience at school.
Establish an Inspirational Routine for the Morning Commute
Although I’m usually the second person to school (custodian is usually there first), I ALWAYS expect to be met with a possible issue from the custodian or a concern from a teacher, staff member, student, or parent. Therefore, I must have an overflow of positive energy. It’s imperative to lift your spirits because everyone will be feeding off of your positive energy. For me, this was listening to gospel music and a Success Magazine interview.
It’s a necessity for principals to get to work early. This allows an opportunity to have a cup of coffee, eat that protein bar, organize your day, and prepare for the students, teachers and staff. Additionally, you’ll have some time to catch up on emails.
Greet Every Student, Teacher, and Staff Member
It’s important for the principal to meet and greet every student, teacher, and staff member. “Good morning, good morning, good morning! How are you? I’m excited to see you. Have an awesome day”. This is my morning greeting to everyone as they are entering the building. Additionally, they are greeted with my infamous fist bump. This provides me with an opportunity to not only give a warm welcome but observe and see who’s having a rough morning and may need additional inspiration or a few minutes to relax before going into the classroom. This includes students, teachers, and staff members.
Deliver an Inspirational Morning Message
Every morning there should be a morning message from the principal. This sets the tone. Students, teachers, and staff should be reminded of the expectations, procedures, and protocol. Additionally, an inspiring and personal message or quote should be implemented to get everyone excited about the day. This should be the same message every day. Please see an example below.
Happy Monday everyone. Hopefully everyone is ready for an amazing week. You know Monday is my favorite day of the week. Monday signifies the beginning of a new week, a new day, and a new opportunity to do something amazing.
First, I would like to thank everyone for making __________ a phenomenal place to work; it is a pleasure to serve as your principal.
Teachers your quote for today is by Ralph Emerson “The man who can make hard things easy is the educator”. Teachers please remember the have your standards, objectives, and vocabulary words posted. Remember the most effective behavior management plan is a well-planned lesson. Remember the 5P’s (Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance) Teachers remember we operate with a growth mindset. Additionally, when it comes to us reaching our goal of 100% of our students excelling academically… we can, we must, and we will reach this goal. With these high expectations, there will be much resistance. Remember the more they resist the more we persist.
Students Remember _________ is a no fighting school. We handle our differences and problems without violence. Students remember the safe place in your classroom and utilize the STAR technique. Stop, take a deep Breath, and Relax when faced with an emotional situation that may cause a negative reaction. Students I’m expecting superlative behavior every class period, every hour, every minute, and every second. Also, remember the 3 rules of life 1) listen; 2) always try your best; and 3) never give up. Students repeat after me. My principal has given me 3 A’s: I’m awesome, I’m amazing, and I’m appreciated.
Finally remember ___________ is a place where pursuit of perfection is expected, excellence is acceptable, and mediocrity is not an option. Don’t let anyone tell you the sky is the limit when we have footprints on the moon. Please have a Marvelous Monday!
Good Morning Visit to Every Classroom
After morning announcements, it’s important to visit every classroom. If there’s a parent waiting to speak to me, they’ll have to wait. My assistant principal and I visit every classroom with a good morning and a “have an awesome day.”
Establish an Extinguishing System
Any fires from the previous day or that morning, must be extinguished because more are on the way. Therefore, there must be a system in place to deal with these issues. On my desk is a color-coded organizer. Red (Urgent), Yellow (Needs to be Addressed Today), and Green (Need to be Addressed in 24-48 hours). First thing in the morning we address these issues before beginning the day. Oh, and be prepared for more flames as you’re doing this.
Adhere to Your Daily Instructional Support Schedule
The primary role of a principal is “Instructional Leader.” Therefore, it’s imperative that principals visit, observe, co teach, model, or teach a small groups daily. This is actually therapy and reminds you of your “Why.” There must be a schedule for this and it must be followed religiously. Here’s an example of mine.
Dr. Jackson’s Weekly Instructional Support Schedule
Week Of ___________________
8:00 – 8:45 – Observations (Lewis, Cohen, Davis, Brown)
10:15- 11:00 – Team Teaching (McKinney & Clark)
8:00 – 8:45 – Small Group (6 students – Gray & Laury)
10:15 – 11:00 – Model Lesson (Peterson)
8:00 – 8:45 – Observations (Miller, Perrymond, Gilbert-Jackson, Fluellan)
10:15 – 11:00 – Team Teaching (Jones & Jackson)
8:00 – 8:45 Small Group (6 students – Johnson & Lewis)
10:15 – 11:00 – Model Lesson (Taylor)
8:00 – 8:45 – Observations (Art, Music, Physical Education, & Technology)
10:15 – 11:00 – Special Education Observations (Collaborative & Small Group?
* The assistant principal has a schedule to follow as well. Radios are turned in and cell phones are turned off. This is sacred time and we cannot be interrupted.
Eat Lunch and Drink Plenty of Water
There have been so many days, that I’ve been so busy that I’ve forgotten to eat, forgotten I was hungry, and didn’t realize it until I was on my way home. This is unhealthy and a recipe for disaster. Just as I scheduled my observations, I must schedule time to eat and ensure I drink plenty of water. By being so busy, I will not adhere to this schedule unless the entire school and my office staff assist me. My office staff usually stops me and say “Dr. J it’s time to eat. Stop now! Additionally, if teachers and students see me in the hall they’ll remind me to stop. This has been powerful as there’s almost no office referrals as teachers and students know I’m eating. This is scheduled for 30 minutes but usually only last 15-20 minutes. My AP and I always eat lunch together.
Relax, Reflect, and Revise
Every day after school I close my door, turn the light off, turn the lamp on, listen to the ocean (music), close my eyes, and take about 10 minutes to simply relax. Immediately, after that, I meet with my AP to reflect on the day. Finally, we make revisions on how to make the next day better. In conclusion, as I reflect on my 13 years as an administrator, these are 10 things I did every single day. Although, about 100 other items can be added to this list, I found these to be most important. However, the most important thing that I did not list is that I laugh at least 15 times per day at school. Yes, I keep count. Laughter lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, and relaxes muscle tension. It’s a critical component to a positive culture.
Finally, being a principal is one of the toughest jobs ever. However, you have some options. You can either run the day, or the day will run you. Ensuring these 10 things are done helps me run the day.