5 Lessons From My First Year As Site Principal

Just a few days ago, we celebrated graduation. The next day we wrapped up with professional development and teacher check-out.

When I arrived home that night, I felt both exhausted and exhilarated.

It was a few hours later when I received the call that two of our students had been in a wreck.

When I made my way to the hospital emergency room, I talked to one of the boys who had a broken arm. The other was in surgery and in critical condition–they had placed him in a drug induced coma for the next few days as doctors monitored his head trauma.

Twenty five or so other students with family members were also waiting together with anxious faces and teary eyes. Later I heard that students who couldn’t make it to the hospital had organized a gathering in a parking lot near the school to circle up and pray for their friend.

No matter how long you are in education, even when school is out, you are never exempt from the real life challenges that still happen. Thankfully, the toughest times also remind us of what’s most important.

Recent Podcast Interview
This has definitely been a year of learning for me.

Jethro Jones, Principal and host of Transformational Leadership, graciously posted an interview of me on his podcast for school leaders where I shared some of those lessons.

To hear the whole conversation I had with Jethro Jones, here is a direct link to the audio recording.

Lessons Learned
As Jethro so succinctly explains in his show notes, the lessons learned this year were many:

1. What it was like moving from the Assistant Principal to the Principal at my school.
2. Bonuses our team offers students who pass all required assessments.
3. What skills I had to learn as an educational leader that I wasn’t taught in school.
4. Key Responsibilities Areas from Entreleadership that help staff know who is in responsible for each area. (For more insights, read my post on Using KRA’s To Increase Effectiveness.)
5. How my school dealt with student loss from student deaths we faced earlier in the year. (See my post on 8 Ways To Help Your School Manage Grief.)

One of the questions Jethro asked me toward the end of our talk was what quote or phrase keeps me motivated. I told him that I remind myself of the following two purposes we have as school leaders:
1. To find ways to improve the learning environment at our schools.
2. To repair or reconstruct areas we find broken.

Whether you are celebrating graduations, providing instructional leadership, or simply being available during challenging times for your school, the product of our schools–the students whom we serve–make it worth it.

As you look forward to the next season of your year, I hope you take time to center on what matters most.

Now It’s Your Turn
Whether you are still in session or preparing for a well-deserved break, what is one lesson you have learned from this past year that you could share with the rest of us?

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker