A Priority List For Principals

A week ago I wrote a post asking “How Do Principals Need To Change?” At the end of the post I promised to share the responses with my fellow administrators so that we could all have a priority to list to refer back to as we start our the new school year. Before sharing the summary of responses, I have to say how amazed I was at the thoughtful responses from administrators and teachers alike.  I feel so fortunate to be involved in Connected Principals and #cpchat. It has provided me with so much in such a short time.

I hope that my fellow Principals enjoy this list and refer to it often as they get into their busy schedules.  The quotations are from the comments left on the post last week.  All of those people who left their insights did so much more eloquently than I ever good have.

#1 Be Visible

Jen Von Iderstein stated it well – “Being visible around the school is important. The students see you, the teachers see you, they know you are there.”  Jonathan Martin also discussed a 21st Century definition of visibility – “Stop isolating yourself in your school or district; be a citizen of your community and be a collaborator in networks of educators regionally and globally.”

#2 Trust Your Teachers

Dr. Doug Green was short and to the point on this topic – “Stop Micromanaging teacher practices! First, you don’t have enough time. Second, the teachers will hate you for it.”  Isabel Pessoa also added – “Give teachers some freedom and leeway to explore new ways of teaching.”

#3 Foster Collaboration

George Couros summed up this one – “We need to include people in the process of decision making at our schools. This not only includes staff, but also students and parents. If we want the best ideas, they will always come from a collaborative.” process.

#4 Lead by Example

There are a few different areas here with respect coming at the top of the list.  Amanda Dykes issued the following reminder – “Teachers are not your students. Do not talk to them like they are children. Treat teachers as colleagues.”  We also need to lead the way as instructional leaders and encourage our teachers to take risks and think outside of the rigid boxes most of us inhabit in our traditional school settings. This obviously includes technology integration and changing the way we do Professional Development.

I love how Tracy Mercier summed this up – “Be innovative and at the very least unafraid. Encourage your teachers to take risks. No one ever got anywhere by maintaining the status quo.” Don Lourcey added – “Principals need to work at overcoming their fear, apprehension, etc. about trying new technologies. They need to be the model in chief…”

#5 Don’t Overextend Yourself or Your Staff

This is one I need to get much better at. If we want to encourage depth over breadth from our teachers in the classroom then we have to do the same when it comes to initiatives and our “great ideas.”

Bill Brannick hit the nail on the head on this one – “I need to slow down and take a deep breath, for the sake of my faculty. We all agree that we need to move forward. However, I need to focus on one project at a time. I tend to throw many ideas at the wall to see what sticks. When I attempt to saturate the environment rarely anything sticks!”

#6 Be A Good Communicator

There is no reason not to be a strong communicator at this point with all of the tools available to us as leaders to both give and receive information.  Or as Samantha Morra put it – “The world of communication has changed. Embrace social media tools and ensure that the school becomes a member of the community. Tell parents what is going on in the school. Show taxpayers how their money is being spent. Silence is deadly. People assume the worst and gossip can undo all of your great work.”

In closing, I would like to steal the comments of Kelly Christopherson – “Hopefully the items set forth in these posts will serve to help administrators to reflect on their practices and develop an improvement plan for their upcoming year. Thanks for the opportunity to add to the discussion.”


  1. Remi Collins said:

    Thanks for a great list. It all seems so obvious and yet take a significant conscientious effort to do and make sure that it becomes routine. It is amazing how #2 and #5 are linked.

    August 25, 2010
    • Thanks for the comment Remi – I think hiring great teachers and staying out of there way is at the top of my list. If that is the only thing you do on the list, I think you will do well.

      August 25, 2010
  2. Jen Von Iderstein said:

    The list is wonderful. I had never got back to see all of the other comments that were made in regards to How Principals Need to Change. There are things on your list that I had never even considered such as “be a good communicator.” I just assumed it would be something that everyone would do.

    I think one of the hardest for me is going to be “don’t over extend yourself.” As a classroom teacher in New Hampshire, I was overextended with all the other responsibilities that I took on within the school. Various committees, groups, and enrichment programs took up a lot of my extra time. Needless to say, I had a hard time saying no to things. This is something that I need to be conscious of when I become an administrator.

    August 25, 2010
  3. […] A Priority List For Principals | Connected Principals – A great reflective post by Patrick Larkin that summarized his findings when he asked how principals should change.  This article links to the original post as well as the summary.  A definite must-read for any administrator that is looking to improve their practice. […]

    August 26, 2010

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