What Makes a Good Principal and Other Questions That Confuses Me.

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Why Do They Have a Lock on the Front Door?Lately, I have been thinking about what it takes to be a successful school administrator.

I have decided to focus on this difficult question, because so many other things continue to confuse me. Such as…

Why do all Steak n Shake restaurants have locks on their front doors?
Does Donald Trump’s barber brag about having him as a client?
Is there a reason they put holes in crackers?
Why do televisions start with channel 2?
Shouldn’t psychics win the lottery at least once a year?
Why isn’t the caps lock key on my keyboard in ALL CAPS?
Why do overalls have belt loops?
Why does the 0 on my cell phone come after 9 and not before the 1?
What do cows drink, so they can have strong bones?
Is sign language the same, no matter what language you speak?
Why do they call the small candy bars the “fun sizes”? Aren’t the bigger ones more fun?
And why do people say “The alarm just went off” when really it just came on?

As you can tell, it is exhausting being me. Sure, I think of these things, but when I see them in writing (I know… technically typing… please save your email), it occurs to me that I have a lot of free time and I may need some (more) intensive counseling.

But, back to the original question. Why are some people successful in school administration and others are not?

I haven’t been in the business of school administration that long, yet I have seen a lot of people come and go in a very short time.

We all get the same basic college degree in administration. We all come from the same background as a teacher or coach. We all read the same books and administration magazines, go to the same workshops, and attend the same conferences.

Most of us have had formal mentoring or at least someone we could count on to show us the tricks of the job and point out the landmines to avoid.

Is it possible that the college curriculum used in training administrators isn’t enough to prepare principals for the job?

On the other end of the spectrum, is it possible that no training at all is needed? Are some people just born with the skill (and lots of good luck) of being an administrator?

After a lot of deep thought (even I can only think about cows drinking milk for so long), I say yes, or at least maybe.

College classes and professors are great, but they can’t give us all the answers and prepare us for everything. Mainly because no one knows all of the questions or situations that a principal may face on the job.

The good news is being a principal means you’re never bored.

I think the most challenging part of the job is dealing and working with people, which is a terribly hard skill to learn out of a textbook.

No one can teach or mentor a person how to stop an argument, get a student to be 100% honest (87% maybe), organize your thoughts (and desk in some cases), keep junior high boys from doing something foolish (good luck), or get a gym full of students to be quiet by just giving them a look.

In fact, most things about being a principal are learned “on the job.” I can remember numerous times when college professors would say, “Don’t worry about that, you will learn it on the job.”

Maybe there is a better way for our school systems to train future and new administrators.

No books, or presentations, or research papers… just a simple test that could be given to teachers or coaches to see if they have the right makeup for the principal’s job.

Maybe I could make my next (actually, first) fortune in creating a test that would identify candidates with common sense, organization, computer skills, sense of humor, credibility, trustworthiness, visibility, leadership, credibility, ability to model good behavior, work ethic, a knack for choosing the right job, and most of all luck.

If I can just focus and not get distracted long enough to make up the test… oh, never mind…

… Why do teachers give A, B, C, D, and F grades? What happened to the E?

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3 Responses to “What Makes a Good Principal and Other Questions That Confuses Me.”


  1. New Principals: Free Advice is Worth Exactly What You Pay For It. | PrincipalsPage The Blog
    on Jul 19th, 2009
    @ 10:01 am

    [...] were passed on to me while others I learned the hard way. Please keep in mind that you are getting these free, so no complaining when 157 other [...]


  2. Moarieta Ientaake
    on Jun 17th, 2010
    @ 3:11 am

    Hello there.

    I am interested to know blogs dedicated to discussions on educational administration issues. Thank you.


  3. pkissick
    on Apr 6th, 2011
    @ 10:08 pm

    I had to laugh at the comment about Donald Trump. He admitted on the Oprah show that though he’s flush with money, he cuts and styles his own hair!

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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.