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Becoming a great Principal

Have you found yourself appointed as a new Principal of a school community and are wondering what to do now ? School Principals influence a variety of school outcomes, including student achievement, through their recruitment and motivation of quality teachers; ability to identify and articulate school vision and goals; effective allocation of resources; and development of organisational structures to support instruction and learning (Horng, Kalogrides, & Loeb, 2010). A great Principal is able to lead a school community over the longer term, exercising a sustainable leadership that fosters student and staff teaching and learning. So what are the markers of a great Principal ? Here's my thoughts after working with many over 30+ years in education.

Great Principals share the following behaviours - they:

  1. Collaborate with the Board to articulate core values, core purpose and vision and to sustain a healthy organisational community;

  2. Work with the Board under mutual accountability to ensure optimal governance policies, procedures and practices occur;

  3. Create a long term strategy for embedding the core values, core purpose and vision;

  4. Place student outcomes at the centre of school vision;

  5. Operationalise strategy through policies, procedures and practices that are consistent with core values, core purpose and vision;

  6. Cultivate senior executive support and buy-in, ensuring their executive are actively leading their teams;

  7. Engage diverse stakeholders across the whole school community to align culture and systems to build healthy relationships based on reciprocal commitments, responsibilities and outcomes;

  8. Create a climate hospitable to education, pursuing continual school improvement and encouraging innovation;

  9. Value communication, creating a culture of sharing information among stakeholders;

  10. Measure performance, ensuring accountability through feedback, formal appraisal and reporting;

  11. Set ethical standards linked to core values, leading by example and setting the standard for behaviour in others;

  12. Continue learning through investing in professional development of self and others;

Common personal qualities that great Principals have and develop include:

  1. Accepting responsibility and being adaptive, tackling challenges when things don’t go as planned;

  2. Managing risk, making effective decisions while weighing the costs and benefits;

  3. Active listening, taking other points of view into account and focusing on other points of view;

  4. Priority Management, focusing on the things that matter most and knowing what these are;

  5. Empowering and offering support to others, bringing the greatness in others out of them;

  6. Delegating and promoting collaboration, managing their workload and developing other staff’s core skills;

  7. Acting decisively, gaining a complete understanding of the issue and being prepared to make the decision without over questioning themselves;

  8. Change motivator, constantly motivating by communicating change really well with all stakeholders;

  9. Communicating well, celebrating wins and building relationships, building trust and action in others;

  10. Getting involved day-to-day, spending time in classrooms, staff rooms, car parks and playgrounds;

  11. Making the vision clear, promoting the core values, core purpose and vision to motivate stakeholders to achieve strategic goals;

  12. Student focused. Remembering you are an educator first and keeping the main thing the main thing.

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