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Be a Principal

What Is It Like To Be a Principal?

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So you want to be a principal? I absolutely love being a principal, and I feel like for the most part that I do my job pretty well. With that said there are times when I sit down at the end of the day and wonder what I’ve gotten myself into and whether or not I’m cut out to do this. I go into every single day with a plan, but 90% of the time, I don’t get to everything I had planned for that day. Being a principal can be extremely rewarding, but it can also be chaotic, challenging, and unpredictable. The following is a sample schedule of a day in the life of a principal.

7:00 a.m. – School starts at 7:55 a.m. Teachers are required to report by 7:30 a.m. However, I like to get there early. It gives me an opportunity to have a few quiet minutes in my office to myself. During this time, I check and respond to emails and compile my to-do list for the day. My list for today includes:

  1. Meet with my superintendent to discuss recent reading benchmark scores.
  2. Check in with my 3rd grade teacher, who is a first year teacher, on her plan to see how things are going.
  3. Meet with my student advisory committee.
  4. Calculate eligibility for the upcoming week and send out letters.
  5. Visit at least three teacher’s classrooms to make informal observations.
  6. Make sure my football coach has concession, gate, and clock covered for the football game tonight.
  7. Return a phone call to a parent that had left a voice mail yesterday afternoon.

7:45 a.m. – Students are starting to arrive. I step out of my office into the hallway to greet students on their way to class.

7:50 a.m. – The parent that had left me the voice mail approaches me and says they would like to visit with me. We move to my office, where the parent informs me that their child, who is in 1st grade, was picked on by a 3rd grader on the bus the previous afternoon. I assure the parent that I will take care of the situation and will update them later as to what I have found out.

8:00 a.m. – Luckily our buses have a surveillance system. I go out and pull the digital recording device from the bus and bring it back to my office to begin scanning through the video. Before I begin watching it, I call the victim in to get his side of the story and to get more information particularly about where they were seated and an estimated time in which the incident occurred. This will save time when scanning the video. The student tells me that he was sitting on the driver’s side near the back of the bus. The other student was sitting in the seat behind him. I ask him to explain what happened and who was sitting around him. He explains that he had some candy in his backpack and pulled it out on the bus. The kid behind him saw it and told him to give it to him. He told him no, so the boy moved to his seat, shoved his head into the back of the seat, and then took the candy and called him a “stupid a….”

8:30 a.m. – I start watching the video feed from the bus route.

8:33 a.m. – One of my teachers comes in and needs to talk to me. She explains that she has two students who are really starting to slack off on completing their work. She doesn’t want it become a habit and ask me to speak to the boys. I tell her I will talk to them, but that it would also be advantageous if she would call their parents and inform them, so they can help us get on top of it as well.

8:45 a.m. – I continue watching the video feed from the bus. I have a clear view of the two boys and should be able to see exactly what happened. Video evidence makes my job much easier because I do not have to interview witnesses and parents cannot dispute what is caught on tape. About 10 minutes into the route, I see the victim open his backpack and take out a candy bar. The student behind him gets up and moves to his seat, pushes his head into the seat, takes his candy, and then quickly returns to his original seat. The whole thing takes less than 30 seconds. I can tell that the victim is pretty distraught after this, but he never tells the bus driver, perhaps for fear of repercussions.

9:00 a.m. – I have started the disciplinary paperwork to suspend this student for three days. It is his first incident with bullying, he typically doesn’t cause problems, and I believe his parents will make sure this doesn’t happen again. My superintendent comes into my office. I put the paper work away and we have a typical conversation about different things going on within the school. I use this time to go over the recent reading benchmark scores. We also discuss the possibility of ordering some new computers, which we desperately need.

9:45 a.m. – I have completed the paper work for the bus incident and have called the boy’s parents. They are on their way to see me and pick him up. I call the boy to my office. I ask him to explain what happened on the bus. He tells me nothing happened, and when I remind him that there is a camera on the bus, he changes his tune and tells me everything. His parents come in a few minutes later, and I show them the video. They are extremely disappointed in their son. They apologize and assure me that it won’t happen again. They sign the discipline form and take him home. I call the victim’s mother to let her know what happened and to let her know that it has been taken care of.

10:30 a.m. – I check my email and receive an email from a teacher who needs to see me.

10:35 a.m. – I go to the teacher’s room. She is having issues logging a student into Study Island. I log in as administrator and check his username and password. He has been trying to log in with the wrong username. That is an easy fix.

10:45 a.m. – I decide to go sit in on my new 3rd grade teacher’s class. It is about 30 minutes before her plan, so I can observe a little bit before I visit with her. Typical of any new teacher, she is eager to learn, but has some unrealistic ideas about how to run a classroom. She is doing a terrific job, but we have had several conversations about her being overwhelmed with everything a new teacher has to do. It is typical of a first year teacher to feel overwhelmed, and I have been encouraging her that it will get better. Today, she is in the middle of a math lesson. She has good control of her students, and they respect her and seem to admire her. She does a superb job explaining the concepts they are going over, and I am impressed with her communication skills with her students. After class is over, I stay, and we have a conversation about the lesson and how things are going. I give her some tips, and she ask for some advice on a few issues she has been having.

11:45 a.m. – I have a few minutes and figure I better grab my lunch quickly while I have a chance.

11:55 a.m. – I am eating my lunch in my office and remember that I need to run eligibility for the upcoming week. As I eat lunch, I multitask and begin working on it. Thankfully the list is fairly short, and I get it completed quickly.

12:25 p.m. – We give our middle school kids about 15 minutes after lunch for recess to unwind. The last few years, I have had aides cover this recess. Unfortunately, there have been several discipline issues during this time, which I have had to handle. This year, I decided that I will be out there every day during this time. It has made a significant difference. I haven’t had a single issue thus far this year that has occurred during this time.

12:45 p.m. – I head back into my office to call my football coach to make sure everything is ready to go for our junior high football game that night. He informs me that it is all taken care of.

1:00 p.m. – I was supposed to meet with my student advisory committee today, but with all of the other things going on, I didn’t get to it. I let them know that we will reschedule it for tomorrow.

1:20 p.m. – I still want to spend some time in a few more classrooms, so I spend the next hour in three classrooms. This is my favorite part of the day. I love being in the classroom watching kids learn and observing teachers do what they do best. I see three strong teachers who push their students to academic success.

2:30 p.m. – When I get back to my office, I spend time looking over attendance reports, grade reports, checking email, and going through the mail.

3:00 p.m. – A parent comes in and wants to visit with me. The parent tells me that their child genuinely likes their teacher and that they are happy with the progress their child is making. I am pleased when I get excellent reports. We talk for a few more minutes and then it is time to go help load the buses to go home.

3:15 p.m. – The bell rings and students are on their way home. I help make sure that all the students riding the bus get where they need to go. Once the buses leave, I mingle with a few teachers talking about how their days went.

3:30 p.m. – I am wrapping things up in my office. It has been a pretty productive day, a busy day, and I am tired. I plan on running home for an hour to grab something to eat before I head back for the football game. I will need to supervise and make sure that there are no problems. The game starts at 6:00 p.m., so if I am lucky I will be home by 9:00 p.m. Then I can relax for a bit, get some sleep, and start it all again tomorrow.

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