4 Tips for New Principals

I worked with Dr. Coiner when I was the superintendent at Penn-Trafford School District. Dr. Coiner was an excellent learner-centered leader then (10 years ago) and is an even better leader now! This week I was catching up with Dr. Coiner and I asked her what advice would she give a new principal who was just starting their job. Her answer (unsurprisingly) was awesome so I wanted to share it with you.1. Admit you don’t know everything and find the answer as soon as possibleWhy It’s Important: A trap that many new leaders fall into is the “I must know everything” trap. After all, you were promoted to this position so you must have all of the answers! Here is the Tom Butler law; “The more you learn, the more you realize how much more you have to learn”. In other words, you will never have all of the answers!2. Be organizedWhy It’s Important: Your daily routine as a first-year principal can seem out of your control. Honestly, a good chunk of your day WILL be out of your control. Being organized in your paperwork, workflows, and schedule will help make you more effective. One Tom Butler hint: I have used Evernote for over 12 years to help keep me organized. I use the picture option to take pictures of things I want to discuss with someone, take notes about what I hear and see, and set reminders. You can use any “note” app out there, but I highly suggest you use one!3. Be Able To PrioritizeWhy It’s Important: During the course of the day you will be faced with multiple things that need your attention RIGHT NOW. Which ones you choose to do first will go a long way in deciding the direction of your school and your leadership style. Tom Butler’s suggestion is to ground these priorities in your purpose and vision for your school and your own leadership goals.4. Really Understand The Curriculum (and Instruction Practices) Of Your School.Why It’s Important: Learner-centered leaders create a learning environment for learners and staff. Having an intimate knowledge of what your staff is expected to teach and how they teach it is vital. Period.Dig in deep to whatever your school district calls “curriculum” and understand how it works, its flaws, its strengths, and the perspective of it by your staff.

About Tom Butler, Ph.D.

I believe that public education is for the public good and that education should be uncompromisingly learner-centered. The New Learning Ecosystem points us away from the old model of education that does not serve kids well. All educators regardless of where they work can help lead and contribute to the New Learning Ecosystem.
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