I have been contemplating (better word than thinking… thanks thesaurus) what it takes to be a good principal or school administrator.
After much thought, I have concluded that I am lacking in a most important area.
Principals must have certain traits to succeed at what can be a very challenging job.
The qualities that came to mind quickly included organizational skills, leadership, and time management. To be successful, one must make good use of time and be able to take care of details.
Then I thought about decisiveness, a sense of fairness, and the ability to control one’s temper (sometimes easier said than done).
As I continued mulling this topic over, it occurred to me that the qualities needed to lead a school were almost endless.
A great principal must have a clear vision of what they want to accomplish and even more importantly how the staff and students should get there. Then have the ability to guide by encouragement and sometimes even a little arm-twisting.
Principals must always be believers, in themselves and the students, and certainly in what they want to accomplish.
Next, I thought they must be willing to work longer hours than most. This is really a requirement of all people who are really good at their occupations.
When working in schools one must be available to work days, some nights, occasional weekends, and certainly be flexible enough to change your personal plans on a moment’s notice.
While the job pays well, an administrator needs to work harder than the people around them. For those who are paid the most; a lot is expected.
If you are going to be a great principal, you need to accept responsibility for all of your decisions. And then be prepared to accept the responsibility for the decisions of others, whether good or bad (just a head ups… not usually good).
Just as important is being prepared to hand the credit to someone else when things go well and take the blame for almost anything or anybody when things go badly (and things always go badly, sooner or later).
All of the really good administrators that I have met are understanding, kind, enthusiastic, driven, and have a sense of humor.
The ability to laugh may be the most important skill of all. To be successful in education, one cannot take themselves too seriously (if you can’t laugh at yourself, someone else will).
Lastly, it occurred to me that most successful principals regularly exercise. You have to make your health a priority. A structured exercise program also helps with mental health.
I thought that I had come up with a pretty good list of qualities about what makes a great school administrator until… it was pointed out that I don’t wear theme ties.
No ties with drawings from small children. No ties with baseballs, soccer balls, or basketballs on them. No ties with pictures of crayons. No Bugs Bunny, SpongeBob, or Superman ties. And none with addition, subtraction, or multiplication problems on them.
Worse than this, I can never remember to wear the appropriate color on holidays. No red on Valentine’s Day, green on St. Patrick’s Day, or orange on Halloween.
A great principal should dress the part.
And I can’t even bring myself to wear a theme tie. I hate to admit this, but I don’t even own one. Not a single solitary theme tie. I am truly a failure.
Kids don’t care about organization, time management, vision, or work ethic. They want to see a colorful and cool tie. I am not fit to work in a school or be around children.
The state should repossess my administrative degree.
Worse than this, I don’t even have my school keys strapped to my belt. I am such a loser.