If the district leader is the face of the school, the principal is definitely the backbone

For as hard as I think I work at times, I realize building principals are in even more critical roles being on the frontline in various areas of work. They are the ones who organize and lead efforts such as: the master schedule, testing, staff development, student discipline, assemblies, recognition events, duties, ceremonies, buildings and grounds, and staff evaluations.

And, as they work to take care of their students, staff, and families, they sometimes fail to take proper care of themselves and their leadership growth. Could you imagine what would happen if your principals weren’t there? Because they provide so much throughout the school year, it’s important for district leaders to support them.

Here are 5 considerations to support your principals:

1. Support Principals in Leading. Sometimes, principals are given tasks that are not always pleasant. Consider giving them leadership opportunities at the district level to help them feel even more ownership, greater connection, and get re-energized.

2. Support Principals in the Work. Principals are always looking to better understand the intricacies of school and district operations. In order to be more effective as a team, consider involving them in district-level work, such as planning in the district improvement process, promoting analysis of test scores and behavior supports across the district, or even better understanding the facility or finance processes.

3. Support Principals in Taking Risks. Due to the nature of their work, principals see things differently from students, teachers, and even district leaders. Consider encouraging them to share their ideas and then support them in taking risks by making changes to things they see around them.

Sometimes, principals are reluctant to take risks out of fear of failure; allow them opportunities to grow and try new things that may benefit student well-being and growth where possible.

4. Support Principals in Cultivating Positive Relationships. In many situations, the principal may serve as the primary disciplinarian, casting their position as negative to students and parents. This tends to create a lot of stress and burn-out. Consider allowing them to lead at district level meetings or even join a community organization as the building representative.

5. Support Principals in their Growth. Principals need time to get out of the building and learn with others to promote their growth. Consider sending them to conferences or workshops and allow them to bring information back to share with their district and school community.

In conclusion, the role of a building principal is vital to the success of a school. They are the backbone of the institution, responsible for a multitude of tasks and leading efforts in various areas. However, their commitment to serving their students, staff, and families often leads them to neglect their own personal and professional growth.

As district leaders, it is our responsibility to support and uplift our principals. By providing them with opportunities to lead at the district level, we can help them feel a greater sense of ownership and connection. Involving them in district-level work allows them to better understand the intricacies of school operations and be more effective as a team.

Supporting principals in their professional growth is crucial. Providing them with opportunities to attend conferences, workshops, and other learning experiences outside the school environment enables them to broaden their knowledge and bring valuable insights back to their district and school community.

By implementing these five considerations, we can truly support our principals in their challenging roles. As the face of the school, district leaders must recognize and appreciate the dedication and hard work of building principals. Together, we can create a nurturing and empowering environment that not only benefits our principals but also enhances the educational experience for all students.

Neil Gupta
Neil Gupta
Dr. Neil Gupta has been selected to serve as the Superintendent for Oakwood Schools beginning in August 2023. Currently, Dr. Gupta serves as the Director of Secondary Education for Worthington Schools. He is fortunate to serve in a district with a vision and focus “to empower a community of learners who change the world”.