As a school principal, it’s your responsibility to lead both staff and students in building the best possible educational environment. To do so, focus on developing these five traits of excellent principals as you pursue your educational degree.
1. Organization and Planning
A school is a complex network of people, programs and policies, and the principal is the one who has to keep it all straight. It’s essential to have a plan in place to guide the school as a whole and support both teachers and students on the road to success, according to Education World. Being organized ensures that you have the tools and information you need to provide that guidance and to handle any unexpected complications. To achieve long-term goals, you also need to keep discussions open between staff and administration so that everyone stays on track.
2. Clear Communication
Ongoing discussion requires the ability to communicate with staff at your school as well as with other schools around the area. Talking to people is the only way to know if the programs you have in place are working. Speaking with other administrators gives you an idea of the alternatives available should you need to make changes. However, you can’t just stay in your office and have people come to you. A good principal meets with teachers, walks the halls and interacts with students to gain an understanding of the prevailing atmosphere of the school and what challenges it may be facing.
Principals will always encounter some staff and students who are more difficult to deal with than others. These people must be given the same attention that you give to everyone else. This includes dealing out appropriate punishments to “good” students as well as “bad,” not allowing some teachers special leeway that others don’t get and learning to extend praise or rewards without appearing to favor any one person over another. Each response has to be suitable for the situation at hand regardless of how you feel about the recipient.
4. Good Listening Skills
The only way to communicate effectively and be objective is to listen when people come to you with questions or problems. Teachers, staff and parents need to know that you’re trustworthy and reliable and that they can count on you to address their concerns. Establish this trust by practicing active listening, a form of listening where you don’t say anything while the other person talks other than to ask questions to ensure that you understand what they’re telling you. Once you know that you have a solid grasp of the problem, you can then begin to offer a solution.
As the principal, you can think of yourself as the captain of the school “ship.” You have to be comfortable being the initiator of plans and being the one who takes the brunt of the blame should those plans hit a snag. The principal is the one who keeps the teachers functioning as a cohesive team, handles disciplinary actions and acts as the main representative of the school. Communication and listening skills come into play heavily here since you need to know exactly what’s going on within the school at any given moment in order to make the right decisions to keep it moving forward.
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Being a school principal involves a lot of responsibilities, but having these traits makes the job easier. Some can be learned from your academic studies; others must be honed through practice and application. Concentrate on personal development in addition to book learning, and you’ll be well on your way to heading up a successful school.