As a principal, what advice would you give new assistant principals that would influence their success as campus leaders and the success of their school?
Assistant principals’ school roles can vary from campus to campus depending on the principal’s expectations and the school district’s job description. Assistant principals often deal with student discipline matters, parent concerns, duty schedules, safety procedures and many other assigned responsibilities. As a new assistant principal meeting with my campus principal for the first time, I wanted to know what her expectations were and if she had any advice to share on becoming a successful campus administrator. My principal’s main expectation of me and the advice she shared were surprisingly the same and simply stated. “Be visible.” At first, I was disappointed with her advice. I thought the advice was not helpful or profound and believed her expectation was easy to achieve. I was wrong. Within the first month of the school year, I discovered “be visible” was a difficult task to accomplish every school day. After learning the difference between being actively visible versus being physically visible, I found my principal’s two words of advice to be wise and beneficial. “Be visible” proved to be a key influence on my campus’ success and paved my way to becoming a successful campus administrator.
The campus’ benefits of having a visible administrator who interacts with students, teachers, staff and parents on a daily basis are numerous and significant. Being an actively visible principal or assistant principal provides the opportunity to influence campus climate, student behavior, student learning and teacher performance in a positive manner. A campus administrator who is consistently visible around the school has a campus presence and often seems more approachable to students, teachers and parents.
As a campus administrator, “be visible” actions might include:
- Setting the tone for the school day with smiles, greetings and compliments
- Modeling kindness, caring and good manners
- Providing recognition, praise and support to teachers and students
- Building relationships and trust through conversations, interactions and involvement
- Providing specific feedback and answering questions
- Communicating the school’s expectations, procedures and goals
- Observing classrooms, teachers and students
- Taking preventive measures to encourage orderly classrooms and appropriate behavior
As a former campus administrator, I recommend three actions to successfully “be visible:”
- Reserve the same thirty to forty-five daily time period in which meetings should not be scheduled. Students, teachers and parents knew when I would “be visible” on the campus and expected to see me at that time.
- Be actively visible at unpredictable times during the school day. I always had an excuse to go for a short walk, find the teacher who stashed chocolate or check on a student.
- Be consistently committed to your schedule and purpose. “Be visible” must be a priority in order to be a key influence on campus success.