15 Pieces of Advice and Encouragement from your Fellow Principals and APs

We asked you and school leaders in the #PrincipalProject community to answer a question on Twitter: What tips or encouragement would you give a fellow principal or AP?

Whether you’re a veteran administrator or starting your first year as a principal, we hope you find inspiration and encouragement from lead learners in this community:

“Go slow to go fast! Take time to build relationships and understanding. Have clarity in your mission, vision and goals. The rest will fall into place.”
– Principal Belinda Talonia

“Set up meeting times to chat with your entire staff… everyone… ask questions like: What does our school do well (why), what does our school not do well, etc. Three or four questions you ask of everyone… then listen and take notes. Powerful way to learn the culture.”
– Principal John Shoup

“Always carry a notepad. When you are stopped in the hallway multiple times before you reach your office … you will have forgotten 50% of the things you discussed. I carry a crossbody containing a small 🗒, ✏️(for the students), ChapStick, plastic 🧤, Band-Aids, 📱, 🔑, and walkie.”
– Assistant Principal Beverly Botchway

“Surround your inner circle with positive, can do people. Take time to recharge – self-care is important, not selfish. Be proactive, solutions-oriented & build community through your actions & words. Join some Twitter chats & admit when you don’t know. You don’t have to be perfect.”
– Assistant Principal Noelle Smith

 “Let the kids see you – be visible! Greet them as they walk in. Talk with them at lunch. Pop into classrooms. See them at their extracurricular activities. It will go a long way in building relationships!”
– Assistant Principal Edward Bucior

“Have fun!!! It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘job’, but don’t forget the purpose of your work: to love students and help them all in finding and pursuing their passion! And always #BeWhoYouIs. Don’t try to be anything more or different than yourself!”
– Principal Mark Brown

“Be genuine and let them see the real you – don’t feel like you need to portray an image. Real relationships only happen when we let ourselves be vulnerable. Laugh every day and never forget your “why.” The reason you chose education hasn’t changed, so stay true to it. Good luck!”
– Principal Randi Sagona

“Don’t be so focused on doing all you think needs doing that you forget to lighten up and have some fun. It’s an easy trap to fall in because there’s always something to tackle. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. Invite others to help with said elephant eating. Balance! Don’t lose yourself.”
– Principal Pat Dillon

“Be true to yourself and genuine. Understand that joining a community takes time and be patient. I am a big fan of starting meetings with celebrations and keeping teacher strengths at the forefront of coaching conversations. When I talk about work with others, I always make sure I can point out the “wins” for the day.”
– Assistant Principal Liz Perez

“You are part of a team and the success of that team is how well you can work TOGETHER toward a common vision. Don’t underestimate the power of listening. [You show your team you’re listening] through meaningful dialogue and an active appreciation of their ideas. We need to show our teams that their ideas are TRULY valued. As the old saying goes… ‘we have two ears and one mouth for a reason.’”
– Principal Steve Ciancitto

 “If you serve with other APs, develop a team mentality and vow to work together as a unit. Learn from their strengths and discover your own while addressing your blindspots. The school will thrive under such connectedness.”
– Assistant Principal Jamie Blount

“Go where the kids are – attend the games, contests, field trips, dances, etc. as much as you can to build relationships with the kids!! I had one today invite me to his first football game (he was so excited to tell me!) I think I’ll make a shirt with his number on it! Why not?”
– Assistant Principal Julia Ramirez

“Lead by example. Show your teachers what’s expected by modeling. If teachers do lunch duty then you do lunch duty. If teachers are to collect data then do your data crunching, too, and share. Transparency is a wonderful relationship-building tool!”
– Assistant Principal Mary Rehberg

“Make sure that whatever is most important to you goes into your schedule first. It’s very easy to be pulled in many directions or take on many projects. Set priorities and schedule them accordingly.”
– Principal Rick Sutton

“Make sure kids don’t view you as just the source of discipline. You are a resource to them. I meet individually with every freshman student by the end of October each year. We discuss their hobbies, their dreams, what they want their teachers to know about them, and how they define success.”
– Principal Patrick Keeley

What would you add to this list? Click here to see more advice from your fellow school leaders in the #PrincipalProject community – and add your own tips!