What Keeps Principals Up At Night: Determining Your School's Needs

July 21, 2014 Margo Ensz

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3016899799 ac4801b6fa m resized 600Whether you are a rookie principal or a veteran principal with 30+ years of experience, each school year begins with great excitement, anticipation, and expectations for success. My successes as a teacher and principal have a basic root in this philosophy:

Students need to be at school and love the learning. Teachers need to educate by teaching their students in an interactive, fun, yet challenging environment. Parents need to know what is going on and how their kids are doing. The community needs to know what we are doing, how we are doing it, and that funds provided are used wisely and effectively.

I was asked to write about what worries keep a principal up at night, and one thought kept coming back to me: Who were my constituents and customers that I served? Mine were Students, Teacher, Parents, and Community. Once I determined my consituents, I made a list of each group's needs. 

Teachers need to:

  • Have the tools to teach effectively
  • Know the strategies that meet all of their students' needs
  • Know each and every student and their educational, social, and emotional needs
  • Know what a successful end of the year looks like
  • Create and interactive learning environment
  • Make learning “fun work”
  • Have their assigned responsibilities established for the year 

Students Need to:

  • Have a great place to learn
  • Expect to have a teacher who is prepared to teach them
  • Arrive at school motivated every day to do their best
  • Be rewarded for their efforts and celebrate their accomplishments
  • Know the expectations that they will have and what their successful performance will look like

Parents need to:

  • Know the schools vision and expectations to contribute in class and schoolwide
  • Be aware of the calendar of events and attend, showing involvement and support
  • Take advantage of opportunities to contribute to the class and school
  • Know what and how their kids are doing while at school

These thoughts were a simple, basic list, but if you were to plan for a new school, which I had the fortune of doing twice in my career, you would design a school that, at its core, considers these needs. 

I also believe that we as educators are there to educate the students, motivate them to perform at their highest potential, and then communicate the successes we all have accomplished through our partnership as a community of learners. Aligning our efforts to meet these tenants create a more effective school. 

I would hope that my successes as a principal would indicate the effectiveness of my philosophy and the success that the teams I have been a part of, including students, staff, and communities, have made learning effective, productive, and fun. 

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Steve Ahle has over 30 years of administrative experience and has become a prominent figure in California education. He was the principal of two schools named California Distinguished Schools, and was named San Diego Elementary Principal of the year in 2002 and National Distinguished Principal in 2006. He currently teaches at two higher education institutions in California, and is a representative for NAESP. 



Image credit: http://goo.gl/mTzEzn 
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