Getting a New Principal: How to Make the Most of It

Getting a new principal can be scary.  What will he or she be like once “the honeymoon is over?”  Will your new principal’s educational philosophy differ from yours and more importantly, will they respect the differences?  There are many unknowns and that can make you feel anxious. 

This post is week 6 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.

The good news is, I think many new principals, like all professionals, at the very least start out the year thinking that they want to get along with people and do a good job.  They don’t all show it the same way, and although some are skilled at meeting new people, others may might rub you the wrong way on the first impression.  But I don’t think many start out desiring to be the conductor of a train wreck.  So if you’re a veteran teacher at the school, their personality may not allow them to say the words, “I need help getting started here,” they will probably appreciate your help.  And just like you do with your students, you’ll need to differentiate how you provide it! 

Here is my experience.  A week ago, at the request of my principal, I met with her for a one to one chat.  Her way of asking for help came in the form of some introductory questions about me as well as the school.  I personally appreciated that she gave us the questions ahead of time so I could be very thoughtful and honest.  So instead of saying “Everything is fine,” or blurting something out I regret about problems in the past, I could refine my answers.  And I realized that this was my opportunity to be an agent for change in my school.  By giving my new principal ideas about our strengths and areas for improvement for the school, I was shining a light on an area she needs to focus on. 

So I told her that although I don’t have all the answers, I had an idea about a topic we might want to discuss on an ongoing basis at school.  And that is discipline.  Our school used Responsive Classroom over the past several years.  And although I hope we keep some of the elements of this practice in place, I feel that it would be helpful to talk about some guidelines for conduct.  Not download something at random and adhere to it rigidly and with no compassion.  But start discussions about it. 

Was I taking a risk opening up and revealing our weaknesses?  Of course.  But it shows that I’m reflective about my professional practices and the practices of all teachers.  And I think there’s a very good chance she would figure it out by October anyway.  So it’s better that she can plan ahead.  She obviously likes to do that since she asked us to come in (voluntarily) over the summer to meet with her (as a bonus I learned we both like to take time to pre-plan over the summer).  So in the long run, I think she will appreciate the heads up.   

If you are getting a new principal and you are asked to talk about the school, do you know what you would say to help bring positive changes to your school community? 

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  1. Hi Amber,
    Conversation. That is the key, and it's a good sign that the new principal wants to work with people rather than direct them. Even if the pedagogy of the principal is different, and that might cause friction, conversations keep the door open for understanding one another. And if your students are engaged and learning, the principal has an obligation to recognize your professional autonomy and agency. I've found that conversations around the success of students in my classroom provided the common ground so a principal with different ideas can accept alternative strategies. Enjoy your new year! ~ Sheri

    1. I agree, Sheri! My new principal seems open to 2 way communication so far. I hope it continues! I have a pretty good feeling so far. :)

  2. Getting a new principal can bring both excitement and uncertainty to a school community. It's an opportunity to embrace fresh perspectives, ideas, and leadership. To make the most of this transition, communication and collaboration are key.

  3. Coming of New principle is actually good news for the students if previous one is strict even I remember once in my childhood in school have news that today principle have off due to Lip Lifting Surgery then we all students have screams hurrah!


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