Being an effective school principal requires making several sacrifices throughout the school day. One of the biggest sacrifices involves being visible around the school during school hours, and at extracurricular activities after school. People who are not willing to make these commitments should probably not be a principal.
Time management is a big part of how effective principals run a successful school. They generally plan for how they will use their time, and just being visible is a big part of their plan. Also, doing a little research will confirm that being visible is one of the best practices for administration to follow. New principals can gain insight into how to be visible by talking to some of their successful colleagues.
Being visible should start at the beginning of the school day, and talking to the custodian, engineer, secretary and assistant principal is a good way to begin. If there are concerns to address, the principal can deal with it immediately. This should become a routine that is followed daily. The earlier the principal knows about a problem, the better.
In the morning, the principal should get into a habit of greeting staff and students when they come into the building. Taking the time to greet students in the morning can be very beneficial because students love to see their principal, and it helps the principal to get to know them. The principal may also be able to identify troubles students are having, and have the opportunity to diffuse it before it gets troublesome. Students can also feel safe because someone is in charge of the school, and they can see that person doing his or her job daily.
Immediately after all students are in the building, the principal should continue his or her duty in the hallways to make sure students go directly to class. Providing positive comments at this time is also helpful with building rapport with the students. The principal needs to be upbeat and encouraging to students.
The principal should also greet the staff members during this morning duty. As a bonus, this is also a great time to make sure the staff see that the principal is visible and approachable. Making positive comments and being concerned about the staff is a good way to develop a good rapport with them, as well. Everyone likes to be encouraged, including staff members. This kind of visibility should continue throughout the school day. Principals who are visible are not only developing relationships when they walk the building, they are also putting out fires before they spread too far. All principals should set aside some time during the day to walk the entire building, and take notes of concerns he or she should address.
Principals should also be visible in teachers’ classrooms. Teachers are just like students in that they need to know that the principal is concerned about what is happening in the classroom. The principal should make sure to take time to talk with individual teachers about what is happening in their classroom. Feedback and support should also be given, when necessary and improving instruction should always be the principal’s goal.
Another big part of visibility involves the principal attending as many extracurricular activities as possible. This includes sporting events, meetings, open house, plays, etc. Students and parents like to see the principal is really concerned about the whole student body. When principals attend these events, they get to observe their students in a different light. This helps the principal to better understand his or her students, and the parents get to see their children’s principal as an assurance. This is a win-win opportunity.
By the principal being visible, a positive culture is cultivated, and research has consistently revealed that schools with a positive culture are high achieving, work in collaboration with the school leadership, and are more productive and safe.