Principals In Action- Redefining the Role

by Mark French, Principal of Gatewood Elementary School in Minnetonka, MN, Ryan Sheehy, Principal of Highlands Elementary School in Concord, CA, Jay Posick, Principal of Merton Intermediate School in Merton, WI.

Back in July of 2017, I was fortunate to present with Mark French (@PrincipalFrench) and Ryan Sheehy (@sheehyrw) about the Twitter hashtag #principalsinaction at the National Principals Conference in Philadelphia.  We not only presented together, we connected with principals from all over the country. It was a game-changing experience and helped us decide to pursue writing a book about being principals in action.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “How can I get out of my office?  I’m stuck in there from the time I get to school until well after the students and staff have left.  There must be a different way!” I know that I used to think that, but thanks to some connections on social media, specifically with Adam Welcome (mradamwelcome), Mark French, and Ryan Sheehy, I spend less time in my office and more time in classrooms, more time in hallways, and more time in the cafeteria and on the playground.  Through interactions in person and on social media with principals all over the country, Mark, Ryan, and I have been able to put together many ways to get out of the office to really know how things are going in our schools.

Principals in Action is not a book of stories, although there are some stories in the book.  It is a book that shares ideas and practices that allow you to become an assistant principal or principal who is more visible in the school, builds relationships with students and staff, and still get the things done that we need to get done.  Each chapter ends with a challenge that you can participate in right away. In other words, the ideas shared are something that you can apply to your school day right away.

So that you can get a flavor for the book, here are summaries of some of the chapter titles as well as the challenge that helps you apply what you read.  The feedback that we’ve received is that the challenges help you put the ideas into action the next day.

Being flexible
Sometimes you need to be flexible during the day.  Other times you need to be really flexible. This chapter provides ideas to help schedule your day while still being flexible.

Challenge- Share your calendar with your assistant so that they can help you with your schedule.

It’s not just about the kids
We’re all in education because of the kids.  But if you don’t take care of your staff, and I mean all of your staff, the kids won’t be taken care of with the same intensity as if you have taken care of your staff.  This chapter provides ideas to help encourage your staff to be amazing for kids.

Challenge- Use the suggestion from this chapter to provide feedback to each staff member this month.

Making personal connections with students
This is my favorite chapter of the book because of the vignette from one of our Merton parents.  It’s not really possible to make connections with kids if all you do is sit in your office. It’s important to get out of your office and into classrooms and hallways while also greeting kids before school and hanging out in the cafeteria and on the playground.  Making strong connections is so important for a positive school culture.

Challenge- Think back to a student with whom you made a connection.  If you are able, reach out to them or to their family to see how they’re doing.  If you cannot connect with them, think back on what you did to make that connection and find another student to connect with this week.

That’s just a brief summary of three of the 42 chapters in our book.  No chapters are longer than ten pages and each chapter ends with one or two challenges like those mentioned before.  Principals in Action is not a book that you need to read cover to cover or in any chapter order. Some of the chapters might not suit you at all and others might talk to you right away.  Find a title that catches your attention, take a few minutes to read it, and then take on the challenge. And don’t hesitate to reach out to Mark, Ryan, or me on Twitter, at the Twitter hashtag #principalsinaction, or on the Principals in Action Facebook or Instagram accounts.  I’m confident that Principals in Action will have you living our mantra- Get Out Of Your Office!



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Elementary Edition - Secondary Edition - District Level Edition