7 Top Things Teachers Want from Their Principal

At the first staff meeting in August, I asked the staff at my new school to write a notecard answer to the following question:

  • “What do you need from your principal?”


The answers ranged from very practical to very theoretical. When put all together, these needs represent a healthy school culture eager to get to know the new guy.


As my own nearly-mid-year review of these ideas, I decided to categorize the answers and self-assess as I go (more about that in a future post). Just like all categorization efforts, this one is highly subjective and open to much interpretation. In any case, I came up with seven main categories:

  • Practical support
  • Technology
  • Special Edcuation
  • Teacher Support
  • Feedback/Availability
  • Communication
  • Miscellaneous Leadership Qualities

I’ve included, under each category, the specific needs from the notecards. Some caveats: I split some cards as they included several different needs, I’ve left out several with identifying information, there were some notecards that had a variation of “I don’t know.”

 So, here it is, the evidence that led me to create this top seven list.

Reeding Lessons CC


Practical Support

  • Help to find a pullout space for individual/small group instruction.
  • I need help ordering equipment. I need help getting permission for special events.
  • Please help to get custodian to build the shelves that were promised & order teaching carts if not done already.
  • Larger budget.
  • Recess duties are shared equally among all paras.
  • Prep time with team teacher.



  • I need professional development opportunities to grow my understanding/use of technology.
  • I have no computer. How would I integrate technology without technology? Only one day a week, I don’t want to run around the building to find what I need: A computer & projector would save paper (photocopies).
  • I would like to have admin access to download some programs that I want to implement this year. Ex. Voicetalk, iTunes, animoto etc. I can get you a list of these sites if you wish.
  • I’d love the use of 4 laptops each morning.
  • laptop, probably a bunch of techy stuff
  • I want patience with technology, I’m working on it all the time.


Special Education

  • Strong LEA rep
  • I need support in getting teachers more invested in the special Ed process. Follow through on IEP timeliness on progress reports, setting parent meetings


Teacher Support

  • Support for my masters work and a consistent sub on the days I miss.
  • I need continued support in my room for academic and behavioral (both at the same time :).
  • Larry needs to be the point man on the administrative team and advocate for us.
  • Support for behavioral needs in my classroom.



  • I would like visits (could be informal) and feedback – constructive criticism.
  • I love to see walkthroughs during class time to just connect as to what I’m teaching the children! (certainly not weekly, when you can)
  • Need feedback on my teaching.
  • I need your availability to answer my questions
  • I need you to be available for small questions that can be seemingly unimportant on the larger scale, but can cause me from being able to move forward in my job.


  • In the past I have worked closely with the principal as social, emotional ok behavioral issues arise with our kids. It would be great to have a discussion on how you would like our collaboration to work.
  • Bridging a gap in regards to part-time communication.
  • Open, clear communication – like the “Monday Memo.”
  • Straight talk
  • You may hear me, but are you listening (not you personally, just anyone I talk to!)
  • I will do my best to check my email and I need face to face communication.


Miscellaneous Leadership Qualities

  • Flexibility, but stability
  • Leadership that is fair for all, keep your sense of humor and always remember the reason we are here – kids!
  • Humor, flexibility, patience
  • Open to suggestions
  • Ideas, time, direction
  • Respect, support
  • Be a leader.


 Sums it all up

  • I need from my principal: support, teaching job next year 🙂 strong communication, respect and honesty


Teachers and staff: What would you add to this list? What do you want from your principal.

Principals: What’s missing here? What have staff and teachers asked from you that I have not listed?

Please add your ideas to the comments.



cross posted to Principal’s Point of View


  1. Mrs. Malespina said:

    Don’t forget about the school librarian. We are a valuable resource with tons of knowledge and technology skills but sometimes get left out of the decision making process/vision because there is usually only one of us in the school. Seek us out. Ask for help or advice we are more then happy to help and can really provide some great insight.

    January 15, 2012
    • Larry Fliegelman said:

      The librarian, the counselor, the nurse, the head custodian, the head of the kitchen, the speech and language teacher. These, and more, are folks in the school that the principal needs to hear from besides the teachers and paras.


      January 15, 2012
    • Sue KOwalski said:

      I agree that the school librarian is a KEY resource for lots of connections that will simplify a teacher’s life! That is why the librarian MUST take the lead in being in the know about so many avenues so that we can help or direct for a plethora of issues/concerns. The librarian MUST take the initiative to make sure the principal(s) know how the librarian can help. Get the principal to see you as instructional PARTNER and LEADER and the entire building will reap the benefits!

      January 16, 2012
  2. jdowns said:

    Trying to be “fair” to everyone is one of the most difficult things I see principals struggle with. Remember that fair is not necessarily equal. Just like we have individual education plans for students, different teachers have different needs, vulnerabilities, etc. My motto starting at a new school as full time technology facilitator is: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care”. Wherever possible give people compliments and asked them about their lives, their classrooms and their families. It doesn’t have to be long conversations. Principals are also “part time ministers”. They have to attend funerals of their staff’s family, attend to sick staff and students. No one realizes the extent of a principals job.

    January 15, 2012
    • Larry Fliegelman said:

      Thank you for your comment.

      My wife has a good idea of the extent of a principal’s job. 🙂

      Seriously, your advice to get to know the people and make relationships is super important. Thank you for the reminder.

      January 15, 2012
  3. Jennifermmr said:

    Vision is missing. The principal needs to be the captain of the ship – even if the ship is well stocked and the sailors feel supported you are not going anywhere without someone to plot your course. Enthusiasm is missing. You cannot get folks to follow your lead without confidence and enthusiasm – teachers often have a hard time with change and will drag their feet, but if you are enthusiastic it can be infectious.

    January 15, 2012
    • Larry Fliegelman said:

      Vision and enthusiasm. Hmm; interesting that neither was mentioned by the group as something they need. I began the meeting that day by sharing my core values and vision. I can’t help but be enthusiastic when starting a school year. So, maybe those didn’t seem like needs at the time. I will be asking for feedback from the staff soon; maybe that will reveal more.


      January 15, 2012
      • jennifermmr said:

        Sooooo glad to hear it. Sounds like you already have these things and that is why no one mentioned it! I feel a bit jealous of your staff 🙂 Keep up the inspiring work!

        January 16, 2012
  4. Janice Driscoll said:

    As a principal in my 8th year at an intermediate school, I found your post refreshing! The list is far-ranging and somewhat familiar. One thing I would add is “your permission.”. Some of your staff will want and need your permission to be free thinkers, problem-solvers, and to take initiative. It may sound odd, but I think you will find it to be true

    January 15, 2012
    • Larry Fliegelman said:

      Sure, I get the idea. But, do any staff ever say it out loud?

      Thanks for commenting.

      January 15, 2012
  5. I’d ask principals to think carefully about the use of meeting time. Announcements can be sent by email for me to read on the taxi home.

    Meetings that are work time are highly engaging. I’ve written a couple articles on teacher meetings that were well worth my time:



    Janet | expateducator.com

    January 17, 2012
  6. Ashley Jones said:

    The most important thing that I want from my principal at my Title 1 school is a competent paraprofessional full time in my kindergarten classroom. Kindergarten is critical towards a child’s future academic success, and it is not developmentally appropriate to expect one teacher to serve the cognitive developmental needs of 21-25 children in kindergarten all by herself/himself.. The principal should speak up to the District and superintendent and request that all kindergarten teachers of Title 1 schools in DeKalb county school district (Georgia) receive a full time paraprofessional thereby suggesting to district leaders and those who control Title 1 funds that this is best for the plethora of needs of low income students from Title 1 schools where parental involvement is extremely low. and test scores are the lowest, and the schools grade out of ten is less than a 4, with a score of 10 being the best.

    May 30, 2017

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