New School Year, New Crop of Principals, and Old Advice… Run.

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Newbies... Best of Luck.I had my first big meeting of the new school year this week (1 down and only 800 bazillion to go).

The start of meeting season means two things. One, I had to iron my dress clothes and two, I saw the brand new crop of first year principals.

I don’t know which circumstance made me feel worse. The wearing of a suit and tie did break my streak of 76 consecutive days of wearing shorts (oh, how I love the summer), but the “deer in the headlights” look that new principals have in their eyes always makes me nostalgic (and of course by nostalgic, I mean sad).

As I continue to fumble around with writing this blog, certain subjects come up over and over. New administrators seem to be one of them. Lucky for me it seems very appropriate since a high percentage of this blog’s readers seem to be new administrators.

I guess that makes sense. I seldom meet a reader of this blog who is over 50 years old (if you are, email me and you may officially be named The Oldest Reader… quite an honor don’t you think?… Plus you may receive parting gifts and the game version of PrincipalsPage.com).

Just like students, the new principals seem to get younger each year. It is like the school districts are hiring sophomores to run their buildings.

I remember when I was a new administrator… and young… but just barely, because the mind is not as sharp as it used to be.

The newbie’s are so excited to begin their career in educational administration. And scared to death.

How can I be so sure?

The glazed over look in their eyes always gives it away. And as someone who had that look, I feel qualified to comment on it.

Pure and simple. It is fear.

Fear of new responsibilities, teachers, parents, students, school board meetings, supervision, speaking in public, evaluating staff, addressing employees… you name it and it makes them nervous. Really nervous.

But the good news is that if you are lucky that feeling passes. At least a little. I don’t think as an administrator you ever completely shake it.

Another quality of a first year administrator: Fast talking. That always blows their covers as a rookie. First year administrators forget to breathe when they speak. They are so focused on spewing everything out just to “get it over with” often forgetting their audience doesn’t understand a word they say. The blue facial tint (could be fear, could be lack of oxygen, could be a sign of snug fitting pantyhose or too tightly knotted tie… who knows) of a first year administrator is a sure give away.

By the second year in the job, these feelings go down by about 50%… so at least you have that going for you.

If you are a new administrator my advice hasn’t changed (or grown in value). Run.

Like the wind.

And don’t look back.

And I don’t mean from the job. I mean for the job.

Exercise. A lot. And don’t make the excuse that you don’t have time.

Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. It is just how you prioritize them.

Make exercise a priority for yourself, your family, and your school. Get up early if you need to.

A half hour a day will do you good and everyone around you will benefit.

And if that doesn’t work. Run.

From the job. There is no shame in hiding in your office, sitting in the corner in a fetal position, and rocking back and forth.

We have all been there (not really, I am just trying to lift your spirits if things go horribly wrong for you).

The good news is that when you survive the first year (and you will, especially if you exercise), you can attend a meeting and stare at the new crop of 2009 administrators.

And you too will recognize that glazed look in their eyes.

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11 Responses to “New School Year, New Crop of Principals, and Old Advice… Run.”


  1. Connie Sitterley
    on Aug 9th, 2008
    @ 11:47 am

    I am not a principal-I am a district-level Dir. of Instructional Tech- I recommend your blog to our admins because you are forthright in your posts and seen to have a good humor about it as well. I am 57 and in my 36th year (24 in Learning Support and the last 12 in tech). so, I should be in the running for the “oldest reader” prizes! Please keep doing what you are doing (with the help of your wife-had to say that after the tweets the other night)! Your posts are appreciated!


  2. brachsmith
    on Aug 9th, 2008
    @ 1:20 pm

    Thanks for the recognition!

    Sincerely, “The Wife”


  3. Shannon H.
    on Aug 9th, 2008
    @ 4:00 pm

    You have just validated my need for exercise! (An awesome accomplishment for you considering my “Doctor” has been telling me this and I start and then stop– see my blog! :) …)

    I am a second year principal in Texas and you describe me perfectly (last year and this). I take great joy and relaxation in checking your blog daily. You are so funny! I have to say that I can’t stop my routine of checking your site to exercise – sorry! But, I’ll fit it in.


  4. Dave Matheson
    on Aug 10th, 2008
    @ 5:22 pm

    I’m 55 and I enjoy reading your blog. Where do I pick up the prizes!?!?!?!?!


  5. micsmith
    on Aug 10th, 2008
    @ 5:35 pm

    Sorry. 61 year old is the leader in the clubhouse.

    Thanks for playing. And for visiting the blog.


  6. Linda W.
    on Oct 2nd, 2008
    @ 3:35 pm

    I am a newbie secondary administrator, but (unfortunately) can’t find a job. Nothing available in my district right now–how do I find something? Should I go to other districts? States? I’m just really unsure right now. Glad I stumbled upon this blog–I will visit it again. I’m definitely in the running for the age prize (57), but no cigar! Darn! Thanks for the humor and the opportunity to relax about this whole administration thing! Linda


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  10. mer
    on Jul 30th, 2009
    @ 11:55 am

    Hello. I have a question. I’m considering taking a licensure program for asst. principal. I made a career change to teaching 4 years ago, and I have a management background. So, I have a few concerns.
    Have I been teaching long enough?
    Does anyone care about my previous management experience?
    And…would anyone even consider a 61-year-old (or older) candidate?
    Thanks!


  11. TyeTeacher
    on Jul 30th, 2009
    @ 5:41 pm

    I would love to be a new administrator. I do think that there is a certain amount of age discrimination that goes on. I am in my fifties and have been in education over 20 years. I think that divisions are reluctant to pay for experience. It is discouraging to see people much younger than me with much less life experience get jobs. I keep applying and plugging away – hopefully one day it will happen.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.