When I arrive to the school that is new to me, I will have a steep learning curve, as Lower School Principal. First and foremost, I am excited to meet the students, teachers and parents. With humility, curiosity, and a positive outlook, I have been getting some ideas together for the first interactions with all three groups. It seems that everyone wants to know who the new principal is so having a plan to meet the community is important. My overall goal is to have a positive school culture to benefit the students and I believe the principal has a major influence in creating the culture. The bulk of this blog post is focused on my rough draft plans for in-service week with teachers setting a positive vibe with the staff will impact students’ learning. Happy teachers = happy students = happy parents= positive school culture!
This is the “why” we do what we do...the students! What are they excited about? Why do they love their school? I need to find out the school’s traditions (if any) for the first day of school. See my blog post Kicking the Year Off Right (link here). I want to ensure the first day of school is fun! I hope to have an assembly to introduce all the staff in a fun and silly way. As the school year continues, I will be at the front to meet and greet the students daily and start to learn their names. I also plan to read a book to each classroom within the first month of the school year. This will be very fun for me, as I love reading books with kids, and make myself an approachable friendly face!
When thinking about the parents, I need to gain their trust and introduce myself. After all, they are entrusting the school and I with what they cherish the most, their children! I plan to host a parent coffee with three parts. First, I will formally introduce myself. Second, ask the parents what they would fight to keep about the school and what they would like to change or improve. I will ask the parents to record their thoughts on flip chart paper. Third, I will also plan time for questions they have of me. The questions will provide a platform for me to get to know what is on their mind. I am sure I won’t be able to answer all of them so I will take note and get back to them with an email or phone call. I can then design my work based on the feedback I collect. I will close by thanking them for their feedback and letting the parents know my methods and expectations for communication.
When planning to introduce myself to the teachers, I am searching for the right balance of leading and learning. I want to express respect for the work they have done in the past years and find out what they wish to continue to develop while setting a positive tone for the school year focused on learning together. To plan in-service, with the “new to me school” staff, is a challenge. Also, some teachers will be new to the school and some will be returning. It always seems all the teachers want to know about the principal and how she/he will work. The first few meetings will make a lasting impression. My goals in the first week will be to support the learning community, build teams and have open communication. I want to make sure the teacher talk more than I do! I also want to model the use of protocols and building community, as they might in their classrooms. I have drafted out a few ideas to get started. Once I arrive and work with the school’s director, Upper School principal and Lower School vice principal, we will refine the plan collaboratively.
Here is a list of initial ideas:
Respecting teacher’s time in the first week of in-service is important too...we know they all want in their classrooms to set up and work with their teams to plan for students. Hopefully these plans will meet the goals of supporting the learning communities and open communication. If you have any feedback or would like to share your thoughts, please comment below.
Coyle, D. (2018). The culture code: The secrets of highly successful groups. New York: Bantam Books.
Fay, J. (2011). Creating a love and logic school culture. Golden, CO: Love and Logic Institute.
Boudett, K., & Lockwood, M. (2019). Power of Creating Norms. Educational Leadership, 76(9), 12-17.
*Credit for this idea goes to Homa Sabet Tavanger at AASSA 2019 Conference. You can learn more about her on Twitter @growingupglobal.
Encouraging autonomy is an important part of children growing up to be self-confident and self-sufficient adults who have a true sense of self worth. However, autonomy has a closer pay off ...middle school. Autonomy is very important when children get to middle school and start facing peer pressures. We want children to be thinkers, problem solvers and most of all comfortable in their own skin so that when they are faced with make making choices they can be confident choosing the healthy, but possibly unpopular decision, to stay safe and have meaningful friendships.
“Habitually doing things for your child that she’s capable of doing herself sends an inadvertent message that you don’t have confidence in her abilities,” which leads to learned helplessness (2017, Guillard).
What builds autonomy in children? Letting children do what they can do is a great step. Obviously, the older the child gets the more they can do, but watching carefully can give clues as to when the child is ready to advance. For example, elementary students can:
When you notice your child doing any of the above activities, then it is a sign they are ready to practice doing it all the time. It takes time and can sometimes be messier than if the adult did it. However, the payoff is worth it! Children between 6-12 years old are developing “real-world skills and a sense of competence” (2017, Burke). Showing children they are strong, capable and worthy are important messages we can send them through our actions.
Burke’s article addresses the various stages of child development with the goal of helping to “identify when to provide your kids with the support to reach new, cognitive heights” (2017). I highly suggest reading Burke’s article linked below for more insight into brain-based research on child development. The article is written for parents and educators to understand and based on solid brain research.
Burke, G. A brief overview of the developing brain: How you can help your kids thrive as they
grow. Feb 13, 2017. Retrieved from:
Gillard, J. Help yourself! 8 tips for teaching kids to be more independent. Sept 29, 2017
Today’s Parent. Retrieved from: