message communicates your real work.
Delegate. Send an assistant or
a teacher to meetings where your
presence isn’t essential. (However—if
the superintendent calls the meeting,
attend!) Your administrative assistant
can be a great help with writing letters,
returning phone calls, managing your
calendar, sorting and recycling mail,
and organizing meetings. Develop clear,
consistent, and fair codes of conduct
and consequences that teachers can
enforce without having to send students
to the office for minor infractions.
Remembering the Essentials
As we streamline our days, some essentials must not be sacrificed on the altar
Continue to learn. Principals absolutely
must be head learners. Carve out time—
however painful—for professional
learning. Build a community of learners
with other principals. You will quickly
become an anachronism if you don’t
vigorously pursue your own learning.
Slow down! Dig deeply into who you
are and what you are about. When the
walls are caving in around you, shut the
door, sit down, breathe deeply, and find
your center. Continually running faster
leads to poor decisions, mistakes, and
forgetfulness—and ultimately wastes
Build relationships. Strong relationships with students and colleagues
bring success and meaning to your
work. Enjoy students. Laugh with them.
Celebrate their joys and sorrows. This,
more than anything else, brings us back
to essentials. Our work has always been
and always must be about children.
Tired we may be, but the meaning
and joy of our work moves us forward.
We have the power to energize teachers
and form the hearts and minds of students. That is our “north star” and, at
the end of those long days, the point of
it all! EL
Joanne Rooney is codirector of the
Midwest Principals’ Center; joanne
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