The turn of the new calendar year brings a chance for a fresh start. Do you remember the great ideas you had in August? Seems like a long time ago, but now you have a chance to continue your work. As a principal, your students should be your top priority. That is where your focus should be, but the school sometimes has a mind of its own. It is so easy as a principal to be pulled in many different directions.
The New Year means a second chance at a fresh start to make good on all the promises of the school year. While everyone is going to make their usual New Year Resolutions of working out, eating healthier, and saving money, I have a few tips for principals to help you get back on your mission and stay focused on the task at hand. When the new semester begins after winter break, take a look at these five New Year’s resolutions to get you back in the swing of being a principal.
- Focus on the positive. Many times as the principal you have to be the bad guy and deliver all the bad news. This time is the time to deliver the good news. Offer kind remarks in the hallway to students you seeing doing the right things. Celebrate and shout them out over the intercom or in their classroom in front of their peers. Celebrate and shout out the teachers you see going above and beyond. Focus on the loud praise. Make sure the time you are raising your voice is because you are happy and not when you are upset. This school year, make sure your teachers and students see you wearing a smile and focus on all the things going great this school year and not the few things going bad.
- Be present in the lunch room. If you want to know what is going on in your building from the students, then you should spend time in the lunch room. In the lunchroom is where your students talk about everything. As a principal, being present in the lunch room, the students can see you in a different light. You are now in their world and can have some good bonding times with them. Yes, I know the school day is busy for principals, but we have to eat. So why not spend some time eating with your students in the lunchroom. It is not about doing it every day but maybe do it once or twice a week. Make sure that you spend the time with different grade level, so they all have a chance to eat with the principal.
- Stick to your schedule. Your schedule typically has meetings and classrooms that you may observe. This year make the resolution to stick to it. If you create a schedule, make sure everyone in the building including yourself understands the importance of your schedule. Do not allow anyone or anything to throw you off your schedule. Post your schedule on your door, so if people want you, they know exactly where you are. Also, carry your schedule around either on a clipboard or a notebook so you can be sure to stay up to date.
- Be the first to greet your students in morning. Sometimes the best way for you to start your day is by seeing the smiling faces of your students. Make it a point to be the first to greet your students in the morning. This is a ritual that you should adopt in the New Year; it will help with changing the way your students view you.
- Get into a classroom and teach a lesson. Before we took the helm as principal, we were teachers. If other principals are like me, there are days that I miss teaching and being in the classroom. How about this year we scratch that itch that I know we all have? How about we answer the question, “Do I still have it?” Get in the classroom at least three times this semester, and teach a lesson. It won’t just be the personal fulfillment you get from teaching, but your teachers also get a chance to see you teach. They will gain more respect for you as a leader.
2019 is the start of a New Year. In this New Year, I encourage principals to take stock and reflect on how we can improve as leaders and improve our schools. Come up with your resolutions on how you will be better in 2019 than you were in 2018.
Happy New Year!