The First Change I’d Make if I Were Principal …

Teachers share the things they’d do to immediately improve school culture.

"If I could do one thing to improve my school's climate, I'd stand up to higher ups ....and parents."

Working in the trenches, we often have a better perspective than administrators of what teachers really need. So, what if you the had the administrative power to do one thing to improve your school’s climate? What changes would you make if you were principal? One of our WeAreTeachers community members recently asked just that question, and here’s what teachers had to say. 

Have teachers’ backs.

I’d listen to what teachers tell me they need. If I had to do a PD, then I’d make it a mini-PD and leave the rest of the time for teachers’ individual needs. I’d also create a team atmosphere and give frequent positive feedback—a little goes a long way. —Leslie C.

I would trust my teachers and stop giving them extra busy work! —Ann B.

I’d visit classrooms and comment on the positive. —Karen S. 

If I could do one thing to improve my school’s climate, I’d stand up to higher-ups … and parents. —Margaret L.  

Deal with discipline problems in an appropriate manner. 


I’d fight harder for the kids that have behavior issues, the ones that act up but nobody can touch them because parents can sue! It seems like there are no consequences, instead they get a piece of candy, or play a game, and head back to the classroom. Many of these students need more than we can give them, and they are taking so much time and energy away from the classroom teachers and the other students who are at school to learn! It seems to become more of a problem each year, and the safety needs of everyone are compromised. The administration needs to figure it out! —Renae S. 

I agree! ALL kids are entitled to an education and we’re forgetting about, and traumatizing, the ones who don’t behave in this way. —Suzie B.

Cool it with the data already. 

I’d curtail the data-driven tests, and let my teachers do what they’re supposed to do—teach. Not fill out forms, not box in a child with “results” from a skewed test site. I would take the burden off the teachers and have their classrooms be classrooms, not testing centers. —Mary M. 

I would do away with the scripted curriculum and bring the creativity back to the teaching profession! —Lynn G. 

Give the gift of time.

I’d just let my teachers teach! —Mel C. 

I would plan fewer meetings and more planning time so teachers wouldn’t have to work in the evenings or on weekends. —Ashley S. 

I’d adjust the contract hours to match the norm for our area. —Anneka N. 

I would give teachers back their weekends and avoid any emails or communication between noon on Friday and noon on Monday. —Ellen C. 

I wouldn’t add one more single thing to teachers’ plates … in fact, I’d take a few things off. —Shelly P.   

More humans, please!

I’d hire enough staff to allow teachers their full lunch, with coverage for recess as well. —Stephanie B. 

I would figure out a way to create smaller classrooms, AND have an aide in every class. —Gabriela F.

I’d hire more teachers to replace all the positions lost through attrition. —Bethany U. 

I would give subs a decent wage so teachers could take a day off now and then without feeling guilty about burdening their co-workers. —Shelly A.

Make sure teachers (and students) are working in a comfortable environment.

I’d find a way to get more classrooms or portables so pull-outs don’t have to teach in the hallway. —Pam S. 

I would make sure the air-conditioning is not 64 in one classroom and 82 in another. —TJ H. 

Somehow I’d figure out how to not cram our classrooms so full of students that there aren’t even enough desks for everyone. —Tammy D.

And as a bonus …

Definitely put a margarita machine in the teachers lounge! —Chelsea C.

I’d order mandatory nap time for everyone! —Jenn M.

What would you do if you had the power to change one thing to make your school a better place? Come share in our WeAreTeachers Helpline group on Facebook.

Plus, teachers share The Most Memorable Items Students Have Brought In for Show-and-Tell.

The First Change I'd Make if I Were Principal ...