Principals I have known

The Week 3 #YourEdustory question is ‘How are you, or is your approach, different than your favorite teacher?’ I have really struggled to answer this question. Upon reflection, it wasn’t because I didn’t have favourite teachers, rather that it wasn’t relating to me at this stage of my career. So I decided to reflect on leadership instead (not that teachers aren’t leaders) and create my own question.

Over my teaching career, I have worked with at least 15 Principals and a number of Assistant (Deputy, Vice) Principals.  What have I learnt from all of these school leaders? 

In no particular order:

  • Trust the professionalism of your staff, don’t micro manage and provide the right conditions to try things; say ‘yes’ followed by ‘how’ rather than ‘no’.
  • Take the time to know the students, parents and teachers you work with everyday and build real relationships. Value those relationships. People know when you are faking.
  • Invest time talking to the staff at your school, know them, know what they value and ask them what they think! And really listen.
  • The school community forgives lots of things, if you are visible, personable and interested in the whole child and their families.
  • Sometimes the job is hard, the decisions are tough and the more you try to sugar coat things the worse they become. And if you do nothing it always comes back to bite you!
  • You can’t fill somebody else’s shoes, you have to wear/find your own.
  • Teachers really appreciate it when you support them with the challenging students and parents.
  • Being a great classroom teacher, doesn’t necessarily mean you will automatically be a great school administrator – you have to work at it.
  • Even if you have the greatest education vision in the world, if you can’t communicate it effectively to the masses, it won’t be accepted.
  • It doesn’t matter how good you are at your job, you have to know when your time is up. If you stay too long, things start to fall apart.
  • Expect lots, have high expectations of yourself, celebrate successes, learn from the not so successful and be inspired by your staff every single day.

Please feel free to add to the list … from school leaders you have known.


This entry was posted in #YourEdustory and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Principals I have known

  1. Celia says:

    Another great post Margo – you are on fire…. holidays are good for you 😉
    Connecting to the challenge question, I wonder if you or anyone else in leadership reading that list could reflect (and would not expect a blog post or even a public answer) on your points and see how you / we measure up? How are you different / same ?


    • medg says:

      I did spend some time as I was writing reflecting on how I measure up and what are my areas for growth as a leader. It may or may not be blog post worthy.
      This is the one I still struggle with every day ….
      “Sometimes the job is hard, the decisions are tough and the more you try to sugar coat things the worse they become. And if you do nothing it always comes back to bite you!” …. as someone who hates conflict, this will always challenge me. I just keep reminding myself that doing something is always better than doing nothing.

  2. Heather says:

    A great list Margo, one that should be read and considered by anyone considering leadership (and I can think of a couple of leaders I’ve known who could benefit from your insight).

  3. Sue Waters says:

    Hi Margo

    I like how you have changed the question to administrators and provided tips of what you’ve learnt from others.


  4. Mr Duncan says:

    Hi Margo – I like your approach to the challenge this week. I too struggled with the idea of it and wondered how to approach it. (I kinda gave up and wrote about something totally different!)

    In reading your post, I could identify the leaders that I had worked with and experiences that I had gone through with each of them.

    I agree with you that sometimes “the job is hard, the decisions are tough”. I read a great book after I got back from the International Principal’s Conference in Cairns in 2013 called “Fierce Conversations” by Susan Scott. It really gave me a good framework for structuring those difficult conversations that I know I often put off.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *