Almost two weeks ago Brian Verwolf (@BrianVerwolf) asked a question on Twitter using the hashtag #principallife. He asked; “What does a principal actually do?” At the time, I answered very briefly that we build relationships with teachers, students and parents. I really could not elaborate on the answer in the 140 characters Twitter allows, so I thought I would through this format.
Without strong relationships with the teaching staff, a principals life becomes exponentially tougher. Every principal has their way they like to see things done. If we do not first build positive relationships, the teachers willingness to do things that particular way diminishes. I was fortunate enough I was able to work with our teachers as an assistant principal for two years before becoming the principal. By the time I was named principal, the teachers had a good idea of what I stood for. I had the support of our teachers to become the next principal and have been able to foster that open communication relationship with them to date. Without the support of our teachers, we are nothing.
If we take the time to build strong relationships with the students in our buildings, they will move mountains for us. I don’t just mean asking them how their classes are going. I mean sitting with them and truly getting to know them as a person, not just a student. Take the time to find out what their interests are. Find out what makes them tick. In the end, it is so worth it. I have had students tell me they are not afraid of me. They are not afraid of making me mad, they are afraid of disappointing me. Without strong relationships, that comment is not possible. I am not saying you need to become their friend. I have seen teachers and administrators that become too friendly with the students and a lack of respect from others begins to develop. Be supportive, caring, loving; just not their friend.
Probably the toughest of the three is the parents. I only say this because we do not see them every day. It is much easier to build that relationship with everyone if you see them all the time. The best way to build the relationship with the parents is to be where they are. If there is an athletic event, be there. If there is an academic event, be there. Talk with them at the grocery store, the gas station, the bank, etc. Make that positive call home. Find their student doing something right and call home about it. This is one of my weak points. I do not make enough of those positive phone calls home. When we make the positive connection first, things go much smoother later on if we have to make a negative call home. When we have the support of the parents, the years go by much faster.
I know there are other groups that I did not mention here; custodians, secretaries, aides, cafeteria, bus drivers, etc, and positive relationships are important here too. I just feel like parents, teachers, and students are the big 3.
What are your thoughts?
Until next time………….keep building those relationships.