The Real Work of a Principal

principal's office sign

When you find yourself sitting in the office of an elementary school principal, just about anything can happen.  It’s the same in a classroom. Just a smaller number of people involved. Same in a district office. More people involved. Exponential differences perhaps. It all matters, just the same.

The most interesting thing so far about sitting in the principal’s office is that people have expectations. The office itself comes with them. People have experiences with “THE Principal”.  Those transfer. People generally have respect for the position. But not always. Sometimes people have fractured relationships with learning, with school, with principals. I welcome interaction with these folks. If I can bridge the gap between their prior experience and their current situation perhaps I can make a difference.

That’s my job – at least in good part. Families’ experience with school matters. They can facilitate learning or hinder it.

I remember a teacher I worked with saying that schools should not hire anyone who didn’t have a classroom full of students. Interesting perspective. I think it is difficult when you’re working as this teacher called it, “in the trenches” to understand just how much happens outside the classroom walls to support the important work that takes place inside those walls.  There are so many parts to supporting classrooms, minimizing distractions, and balancing external expectations in order to streamline the way for teachers to teach and children to learn.  And there’s more!  Principals oversee the facility, personnel, classroom curriculum, professional development, standards, education code, a budget, federal and state mandates, community resources, families and students. I interact with all kinds of stakeholders and interested parties. I am held accountable for the safety and success of every single one of our children. I’m responsible for a few other things I’m sure I’ve left off this list too. And I am fortunate to have excellent support. Building & Grounds, Cafeteria, Front Office, teaching staff, paraprofessional staff, yard staff, district legal and operational and instructional support, and a parent group that may as well be on the payroll.

A colleague inquired recently, “What’s the hardest part of being a Principal?” I paused before responding. Only because that’s hard to say.  I love what I am doing. I love being a Principal.  Another colleague said something along the lines of, “You’re the big cheese.” I didn’t have a hard time responding to that one.  I do not see it this way.  Not at all.

Mandela quote

Instead, I see myself as supporting. Most importantly I must support what is best for the students we serve. I am IN SERVICE OF.  My real work means support. I support children. I support families. I support teachers. I support mandates and facilities. I support food service. I support. This is the real work of a principal.

serve others



SOL with website

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for sponsoring the Slice of Life Challenge 2016. Proud to be writing each day and posting on your site alongside so many other learners, educators, and superheroes. For more slices click here.


About Be Strong. Be Courageous. Be You

Principal at the School at the north end of Los Angeles Harbor where AWESOME happens. Working to make the world a little more wonder-full.
This entry was posted in Principal, SOL2016, Students First, Teaching, thoughts, Truths and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Real Work of a Principal

  1. Lisa R says:

    I wish all schools had principals like you. Our education system would be a lot healthier.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. schmidtkristas says:

    I love your philosophy of support. You clearly “get it”!

    Liked by 1 person

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