Much attention is given to the first day of school from the child’s or parent’s point of view, but have you ever stopped to think about what the principal might be thinking when it’s time for school to start? I had the opportunity to be a campus director in my career and here are some of the thoughts I had.
1. I have first day jitters, too. What should I wear? Will the schedules–classes, duties, parking, drop-off/pick-up,etc.–run smoothly? Will my staff like me?
2. I am responsible for all the students, teachers, and staff on this campus. Is my campus as safe as it can be? Have I planned proper procedures for emergencies? Does my staff trust me? Will I be able to make the right decisions in an emergency?
3. I support my teachers. I trust them to make the appropriate decisions in their own classrooms, and I consider them an extension of myself throughout the campus. We are a team and we stick together, not against you or your child, for FOR you and WITH you.
4. If your child has a problem with the teacher, please try to resolve it with the teacher first. Bringing a complaint about a teacher to me before consulting the teacher puts me in a difficult position and is unfair to the classroom teacher, who knows much more about your child and the situation than I do. The teacher deserves the opportunity to work with you and your child to find a solution.
5. My number one priority is the safety of my students, teachers, and staff. Our safety procedures have been carefully thought out and planned to keep everyone safe and is not meant to be an inconvenience to the parent, although sometimes it may seem so. Your cooperation is absolutely necessary to keep everyone safe in a dangerous or threatening situation. Please don’t be that parent who comes to the school during a tornado warning to pick up your child! They are safer with us, and we will not let them leave with you!
6. Yes, I do want our school to look good, but not at the expense of your child. I am human and I like recognition as much as the next person, but I will not sacrifice common sense or basic education for it. My first priority beyond safety is the education of our students.
7. If you disagree with me, please talk to me before you talk to people in the community. Just one person going out into the community and badmouthing the school, especially if it is a small town, can be very damaging. Please come to me with your concerns and complaints before spreading negativity around the community. Let’s find a solution together.
8. Other than my family and church, this school is my heart and soul. I spend every waking moment in my identity as a school principal, and I am continually thinking about ways to improve our school and your child’s education.
9. I want your child to feel comfortable–loved and cherished–and safe here. I will do my best to make sure that my campus is a welcoming place for our kids and staff, and I will do my best to know every student by name and remind our teachers that each student is someone’s baby!
10. I want your child to be successful. I want this not only for our graduation rates, test scores, and approval from our administration and school board, I want this for you and your child. I want each child to leave our school with the feeling of a job well done and the reality of an education achieved.
I hope this list helps you to understand where your campus principal may be coming from. (from which he/she is coming from?)
Just remember that his or her frame of reference is much larger in scope than yours as a parent or teacher and often there is much more to an issue than may appear. The principal is in many ways, caught in the middle between teachers, higher administration, and parents. Give them a break and remember that you and he/she have the same goal: what is best for your child.