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What three attributes do you desire in a principal?
Regular feature in the Gazette
January 1, 2008
Every month, Teachers.Net asks an education-related or just fun question of our community, and assembles the responses in the Teachers.Net Gazette. Recently the following thread took place on the Teachers.Net chatboard (

This month's question: "What three attributes do you desire in a principal?"

1- holds faculty meetings only when/if necessary
2- backs teachers
3- on early dismissal days, if we have finished our work, lets us go home

Always backs the teacher and NOT the parents.
Provides a good role model for staff.
Realizes we all have lives and our things arise.
Is generous with time and supplies.

1. Is a good listener
2. Thinks things through before acting
3. Is supportive of the staff by doing all in his/her power to get them the materials and working conditions they need in order to do a good job

Realistic - - no matter how hard your teachers work, some students will still fail if they don't put forth effort or if they simply don't have the ability/skills. Be realistic. Pushing your teachers to work harder, work harder, work harder until they are all ready for a nervous breakdown won't ever change that fact.

Supportive - - Students who are disruptive to the learning process shouldn't be in the regular classroom. Period. Find a way to make that happen so everyone else can learn.

Instructional Leadership - - First and foremost I want you to have significant experience as a top notch teacher. Be someone I can respect as knowing exactly what it is we
are doing in the classroom, and be someone who was excellent at the position for many years. How can you lead me if you don't really know how to do what I am doing?

l. The kind of intelligent personality who can think of five things at one time and make immediate good solid decisions
2. One who has been in the classroom at least 15 years prior to administration
3. One who backs up the teachers and values teachers

A leader, not a manager; plays no "favorites"; backs teacher

Intelligent, Honest, Compassionate

Someone who does not have instant memory loss when he or she enters administration.

Someone who remembers those difficult days that we all have at times. Someone who does not pretend that they were the perfect teacher at all times.

Someone who does not play favorites. If the contract reads we all should be here at x hour, all of us should be here. The favorite should not be able to roll in with the students each day. Don't tell Teacher A she can leave 15 minutes early every day so she can miss the traffic on the way home and then tell Teacher B it is not OK to leave 5 minutes early one day to get to a doctor appointment.

When the parent calls the office to complain about Johnny's homework, ask the parent if he or she has contacted the teacher first. If the parent says they have and are still not satisfied, please speak to the teacher before you tell the parent you will resolve the problem the way they want. Listen to the teacher. Find out why the teacher said what he or she said. Get the complete story before you make a decision.

Same as with kids: Attitude is the base. I would like a principal who cares about and is supportive of students and parents, but also teachers. She or he should have a balance: advocacy balanced by a caring wisdom for all concerned.

A principal should be a good communicator and work to facilitate the positive growth of others.

A principal should also, as a skilled communicator, be able to set forth clear expectations and, again, balance that with concern and wisdom to understand the needs of all who are involved in the educational process and with outside lives. He or she should understand that adults - like the students - are life long learners and on a developmental journey.

Mutual respect and trust needs to be nurtured.

A spine.
A spine.
A spine.

1. a brain
2. a heart
3. a backbone

Vision and methods to achieve it.

Dedication/devotion to all children
Personal and professional integrity
Impeccable communication skills

A principal should not be afraid to step into a classroom and take over if necessary. It is interesting when principals are not willing to do that.

Having had ALL wonderful ones over 3 decades, I have never had a principal I did not admire. First trait is not siding with anyone. They don't always take the teacher's side, the student's side or the parent's side. They investigate and handle it FAIRLY knowing that any of the three mentioned could be the problem.

Secondly, they are very aware of child development and do not ask for anything unreasonable with the children (like no recesses, etc.).

The third I would choose is allowing GOOD teachers freedom to teach the way they teach best and making sure the poor teachers are mentored by those teachers.

Integrity, Compassion, and Appreciation.
Knowledge, Involvement, and Fairness.

1. Leadership
2. Intelligence
3. Demands excellent teaching and is willing to 'counsel out' those not meeting expectations.

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