It is 2018 and I am writing you a letter before I forget, when you are blessed with the opportunity to lead your school in August 2011, I want you to be equipped with these thoughts and beliefs. Some of these things will come naturally, some were learned, some were earned, please utilize these skills to add value to the people in your organization:
1) People are always more important than process, always.
2) Listen more than you talk.
3) Write genuine notes of gratitude to your staff.
4) If you want staff to trust you, demonstrate trust in your staff.
5) Consequences must include compassion and instruction.
6) Building a schedule for anything is like living on a farm, you are going to get crap on your boots regardless of the direction you take.
7) Never ask someone to do something you are unwilling to do yourself.
8) Model kindness.
9) If the coffee pot has been there for thirty years do not move it or devalue its importance to your culture.
10) Show people you care not only with your words but with your actions.
11) When implementing a new program, pick talented teachers to lead, share your vision and get out of their way. Do not micromanage, no one likes that.
12) Keep an open door, encourage honest conversations, accept feedback, hold no grudges, respect and consider the opposing point of view.
13) Believe that all teachers want to do their best, be there to support them when they aren’t at their best.
14) Make the orneriest students your favorite students.
15) Encourage solution based thinking, if a teacher has a better idea, go with it. Be sure to acknowledge it was their idea.
16) Always go out of your way to help someone attain their goals.
17) Not holding someone accountable is an injustice to their development as a professional. Make no apologies for high standards.
18) Hire amazing secretaries, they are the face of your organization.
19) Let the secretaries know they are amazing as often as possible.
20) Be Humble, Be Available, Be Consistent
21) Make sure the custodial staff knows when there is food in the production room.
22) Make sure the cafeteria staff knows when there is food in the production room.
23) Conflict is an opportunity for understanding.
24) Encourage teachers to take calculated risks. Encourage them to reflect on those risks in order to make educated modifications to their pedagogy.
25) Make sure students have an opportunity to visit the principal for positive reasons.
26) Do not say we are a family unless you back it up with your actions.
27) If a teacher wishes to attend their kids spelling bee, help them figure out how to go.
28) Interview tough and always ask challenging questions.
29) You do not have to do lunch duty. You get to interact with kids, shoot hoops, throw a football, play four square, and build relationships.
30) Take time to think.
31) Greet students as they enter the building.
32) Encourage staff to make positive contacts home.
33) If you see that the plunger is wrapped in a plastic bag in the staff bathroom, do not ask why.
34) If you make a mistake, acknowledge it, correct it, move on.
35) If you are unable to reach a decision, sleep on it for a night.
36) When in doubt, do what is best for kids.
37) Ask students what they love about your school, ask what they would change.
38) If you can say it in an email, cancel the meeting and hit send.
39) Student test scores are not impacted by a nice pair or jeans worn by the teacher, your approval ratings however will be.
40) Promote and model well being: Family, Faith, Career, Health
41) Never allow others to say “Just a para.”
42) Value time, give it generously, take it sparingly.
43) Attend activities that your students participate in. Cheer!
44) Thank guest teachers.
45) When you are the most talented administrator in your peer group, you need a different peer group.
46) Be the person who keeps believing in that challenging student.
47) Greet staff members in the hallway.
48) Wait to hear the other side of the story.
49) Make it a habit to ask “What can I do for you?”
50) Write a note to retired teachers, they built the culture you enjoy.
51) Do not underestimate the impact of a calm demeanor in a stressful situation.
52) You are there for your staff/students/families, the people are not there for you. There is a big difference in these dispositions.
53) Your heart will break and you will be moved to tears.
54) Your heart will be filled with joy, and you will be moved to tears.
55) You will be attacked unfairly, take the bullets, keep your dignity. Forget it the next day.
56) If you ever say “I have to go to work.” instead of saying “I get to go to school!” understand you are no longer in the right place.