Do unto teachers as you’d have them do unto kids

I’m a school principal and I LOVE IT! I have amazing teachers, amazing secretaries, amazing custodians, and amazing students. Every single one of the people I work with makes my life better and I am so grateful. These are not just words being written. These are genuine words of appreciation and gratitude. I know that my life has been impacted by the people I work with because they are special, unique, and driven.

As a principal, I know my responsibility is not just to help craft and draft a mission statement, write policy, and sign checks. Every single day I work with other adults who are watching my every move, even when I don’t notice it. They watch to see if there are signs of discouragement or signs of hope. They watch to see if I will offer a hug to a struggling student or walk right by. They watch to see if I will extend grace to a teacher who overslept or if I will correct with consequences.

As a principal, my job is to model to the adults, what I expect the adults to display to the children in their care. If I say that it is essential that every child walks into a room knowing they are safe and loved, I must make the time to ensure every staff member feels the same way. If I expect every teacher to articulate goals and objectives to their students, I must take the time daily to do the same for my teachers. If I expect every expectation to be explicitly taught, I must remember that even to adults, sometimes what we should know by now is not what we do know now.

This year at my school I have the following goals for myself: Pass out at least 50 hugs a day, visit at least 30 classrooms a week, make at least 100 parent phone calls a month, smile at every person I pass in the hall, get out from behind my desk each time I have a conversation in my office, to start every work day with a full staff huddle before the kids arrive, and display hope and optimism in each conversation I have. These are my goals because I expect my teachers to get to know their students, to provide love and guidance, to be explicit in their expectations, and to remember that the life changing business is a good business. I want my teachers to get out from behind their desks, to articulate their vision, and to teach with kindness.

As a principal, no job or responsibility is beneath me. My job is to dress up in costumes, to make a caricature of myself daily, to pick up trash, to fill in for absent teachers, to serve others, and lead by example. My example will say more than my words ever will and it is this personal challenge of mine that will help my teachers change the lives of kids.

Principals- yes you have to balance budgets, do evaluations, supervise bus duty, and deal with disgruntled parents, but you know what…so do your teachers. If you want your teachers to lead the next generation with love and inspiration, then lead your teachers the same way. This is Bold Humility and once you learn how to display it, you’ll never forget. It’s Like Riding a Bike.   

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Dave is the current principal at Warrington Elementary in Pensacola, FL.

He has served as a middle school principal, asst. principal, classroom teacher, and college professor in the state of Michigan.

Dave is also a speaker and author of It’s Like Riding a Bike: How to make learning last a lifetime

Interested in hearing Dave speak to your staff? Check out how:

2 thoughts on “Do unto teachers as you’d have them do unto kids

  1. I can’t wait to read the book! I, too, am an elementary school principal and was once a student at Warrington Elementary (1971-72). I was in 5th grade the year that part of the school burned. My classroom was on the wing that burned. We spent the remainder of the year in a makeshift classroom located in the school library.

    Liked by 1 person

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