A positive working relationship with your principal can make all the difference between a great teaching position and a miserable one. Understanding the skills and behaviors principals value most can help you when building a relationship with your principal. Here are six prized characteristics that principals look for in their teachers.
1. Don't Be Afraid of Change
Change is an important part of life, and schools are no exception. There's no end to the curriculum updates, revolving state mandates, new policies, and endless initiatives teachers deal with on a regular basis. They must learn to adapt quickly, and principals appreciate those who exhibit this flexibility.
Early in my career, my principal suggested moving from a six-period day to a four-period block schedule. I wasn't so sure my students would do well with 86-minute periods. However, I decided to be flexible and go with the flow. As it turned out, I loved the new block schedule. I realized I could explore subject matter much more deeply with my students than I could during a 46-minute period.
Further reading: How to Become a School Administrator
Not all initiatives work out as well, but being willing to try new things is important. Being resistant to change can make a teacher seem difficult. Principals appreciate teachers who are flexible, adaptable, and who accept change.
2. Be Positive
A good attitude goes a long way if you're building a relationship with your principal. Teaching is difficult work, and there are many factors that affect a student's success, many of which are out of a teacher's control. It's easy to get caught up in negativity, and that can be contagious. Principals know that an optimistic teacher can have a profound impact on student performance and school culture, so they are thankful for resilient teachers with upbeat attitudes.
3. Get the Job Done
It's a given that you ought to take care of your classroom duties. But teachers are often required to take on additional responsibilities, such as committee work, workshops, school events, and curriculum development. Principals want to be able to delegate work to teachers and know that it will get done correctly and efficiently. If you take a task on, your principal needs to trust that you will complete it.
4. Be a Problem-Solver
A principal's day is filled with problems—problems they might not always have the answer to. If you can help overcome those hurdles, your principal will start to view you as a key ally. A math teacher at my school frequently submits her solutions for complicated testing schedules to help our principal out, and I know he values her input.
Teachers who anticipate problems ahead of time and who work to find solutions are especially valued.
5. Grow Professionally
Principals love teachers who take initiative, such as earning certifications, staying on top of professional development, and completing coursework. Earning a master's degree can help teachers become stronger practitioners. Special education, English language learners, and National Board Teacher certifications are also valuable.
6. Contribute to the School's Culture
I'm blessed to work with wonderful teachers who work hard to ensure that all our students succeed. They help each other out, celebrate successes, share ideas, and build the community at our school every day. They make funny videos to boost morale and show school pride. They stage all-school concerts so student and teachers can relax a little and have fun. They send giant get-well cards, celebrate birthdays, and bring in homemade treats to share.
Good teachers know how to solve conflict, and they don't create drama. Teachers who lift each other up, help each other with issues, create opportunities for students, and serve as sounding boards for ideas, are appreciated and valued by their principals.
Further reading: How to Move Past a Conflict with Your School Principal
Building a relationship with your principal requires your principal to do their part in being appreciative, supportive, and helpful. Not all principals are easy to work with. But by following this advice, you can ensure your professional experience is as good as possible.