Celebrate New Principals!

Celebrate New Principals!

Next Friday I have the privilege to present at the Beginning Principals Conference for new principals in my home state of Kansas.  I am beyond excited to see what talented leaders we have joining us in the field next year!  I hope that my 30-minute presentation on Technology and Leadership gives our new principals a tool or two to employ next year and beyond.  However, my much bigger hope is that they come away from the day, feeling recognized, celebrated, and empowered as leaders.  They need to know that they were chosen for their positions for a reason: our schools–staff, students, and parents–need them!

The reality of the principalship is that it is hard, really hard.  In Kansas, we have never faced more policies, pressure, and not-so-positive publicity in education, and that’s educators as a whole.  Principals, even in the good times, are challenged, criticized, and rarely recognized.  I think about my six years as a principal and I have been challenged to a physical altercation, berated with more than PG-13 vocabulary, and dodged routinely at the grocery store.  Of course, there have been a gazillion positives that have balanced out the not-so-fun moments, but we’re not people who regularly get pats on the back.  Furthermore, consider how principals have been portrayed in pop culture.    Well, 80’s, 90’s pop culture 🙂

PrincipalBBrfastPrincipal Vernon from The Breakfast Club. The classic jerk principal full of empty threats at which students feel obligated to rebel.

PrincipalSkinnerPrincipal Skinner from The Simpsons. The classic socially awkward, zero-life-outside-of-school principal who slinks through the day just hoping to avoid getting reprimanded by the superintendent.

PrincipalBeldingPrincipal Belding from Saved by the Bell.  The classic cheeseball principal that nobody takes seriously.

These principals are fondly remembered by us, well, at least those of us in the 30-and-up crowd.  I’ve even playfully dished out Principal Vernon’s “you mess with the bull, you get the horns every time,” to an ornery sixth grader.  I’ve also exceeded my quota of cheesy thumbs-up signs in the hall courtesy a time or two.  However, these characters do not represent who we are or what we do as principals.  Nevertheless, these are the images that come to mind when people think about principals.

So my challenge to you is to find a new principal, welcome him/her to the field, celebrate the work that got him/her here, and offer your support.  You can do this as a fellow principal, as new principals crave and need peer support.  You can do this as a teacher, as there is not a more comforting feeling for a new principal than knowing teachers have his/her back.  You can do this as a parent, as the most memorable compliments we ever receive are from the parents who entrust us with their children every day.

Pick up the phone to congratulate a new principal.

Hit him/her up on Twitter or Facebook.

Send an email NOW, as this is typically the first week principals are back at it.

Best of all, stop by his/her school, shake hands, and say, “You’re the right person for the job. We’re lucky to have ya.”

I encourage you to email me or hit me on Twitter with your story of congratulating a new principal to the field.

Thanks for reading!

PE

perickson@usd313.org

@PrincipalPaul

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