7 Essential Skills of a School Principal

School principals must be able to answer a lot of questions. What changes as each year passes and children grow into adults? What tools should they embrace as they advance their careers in education? What lessons should they learn regardless of their tenure? These seven key skills for succeeding as a school principal can shed light on those questions and many more:

1. Building Positive Relationships

Building a positive relationship begins by being known and being approachable. This means that teachers, students, parents and staff should know who you are and feel like they are free to voice their concerns.

You can get better at this by taking classes that teach you how to lead people, resolve conflicts and use logic and reasoning. Remember that statistics are good for some things, but nobody is just a number.

2. Gathering Information

Listening is a valuable skill — especially listening to what is not being said. Key words that appear in conversation can shed a great deal of light on smaller problems that might escape your attention. Smaller problems can build into larger problems quickly. Listening can save you a lot of trouble.

Ask questions — the more, the better. This will bring existing problems to your attention and afford you the opportunity to fix them. Listening and questioning skills can be improved through logic, critical thinking and debate.

3. Understanding People

Students do not always have the skills to deal with problems, so you have to be able to understand how children develop, react and behave. Many adults carry those same limited choices or tools with them into adulthood, so understanding how people function, think and react will benefit you substantially.

4. Making Sensible Decisions

Power brings it’s own set of constraints, and those at the top are often constrained by the power they wield. Show people the big picture and set priorities that solidify your plan of action. Critics can be your biggest supporters if they understand why and how a problem must be solved.

5. Asking for Help

That should seem like a no-brainer, but it seems to be a weak link in leadership. Ask for help when you need help. Find a mentor or three. Many people have walked the path that you now walk. They have made mistakes. They also may have learned better methods of correcting problems. Use the experience of others to build a better foundation for what you do.

6. Finding Resources

Join regional and national groups that are made up of principals. These groups help to keep you informed of changes in teaching philosophies. They also help by providing potential resources to you.

7. Building on the Success of Others

Winning ideas and programs developed by others may not fit your school, but they can be amended to help you build success.

If you’re thinking of becoming a school principal, here are some career pointers you may findĀ  helpful:

Education Requirements

The minimum degree requirement to become a principal is a master’s degree in education administration or leadership, though many school districts require a doctorate.

Career Options

Most principal positions require one to five years of experience as a vice principal or a teacher. Those who have a master degree in educational leadership or administration might work as a vice principal, school teacher, special needs teacher and then school principal.

What to Consider if you Pursue being a School Principal

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for school principals is $86,970 annually. Also, the BLS expects 10 percent growth in principals’ jobs through 2020, which is about average for most careers in the United States.

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