Characteristics of an Effective Principal!

by Daniel D. Trotter, Sr.


       Editor’s Note:  This article originally appeared in The Teacher’s Advocate! magazine.  The author is the father of Dr. John Trotter, and he serves on the MACE Board of Directors.  Mr. Trotter is a retired Georgia school principal.


The following is a list of characteristics that I would suggest to any principal who cares to be respected and admired by both students and teachers:


       1. Always be completely open to teachers.  Be willing to discuss any policy that you have and give the background as to why you instilled the policy.

                2.  It is important that you always speak pleasantly to your teachers and never put them down in the presence of others.  All constructive criticism should be done in private.  Never raise your voice when you have a need to correct a teacher.  Never strip your teachers of their dignity.

                3.  Be generous with praise and cautious with criticism.  Be quick to give credit to others when it is due to them.  Make it a policy to commend your teachers often.  Look for reasons to commend them and you will see that they will work harder for you.

                 4. Always tell the truth – even when it hurts.  No one respects a person whom they can’t depend on to tell the truth.  As the saying goes, “Tell it like it is.”

                5.  Be easily approachable.  Encourage teachers to ask you for help, if needed.

                6.  Be seen!  A principal should be in the school halls when students are in the halls.  You should be in and out of the cafeteria during lunch.  You should go into the classrooms often, if only for a few minutes.  You should be visible in order to be a leader.

                7.  Make discipline your number one concern.  Without discipline, little teaching or learning can take place.  You are the key to any school’s discipline.  You must have a firm policy and be sure that both teachers and students fully understand it.  Be willing to take a stand and then stand.

                8.  Never accept an accusation against a teacher until you first speak with that teacher.  Be a friend to your teachers and support them as much as possible.  When they make mistakes, let them down easily.

                9.  Be open to teachers’ suggestions and, if you disagree, be pleasant in your discussion.  You have no need to be threatened, if you are open and honest.

            10.  The last characteristic is a summary of the other nine.  When you deal with teachers, remember two things:  Tell the truth and treat others like you would want to be treated.

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