5 Essential But Overlooked Principal Responsibilities

Working behind the scenes may be the most important work you do

5 Essential But Overlooked Principal Responsibilities

Reviewing lesson plans. Organizing school events. Making sure parents are happy. We principals have a lot of responsibilities, and it’s up to us to be able to manage them all efficiently. Here are five essential but overlooked school principal responsibilities you have to contend with to develop a successful school.

1. Creating a positive school culture

School culture is nuanced; there are many levels and implications to it. Ideally, the school is a place for children to learn as well as somewhere parents feel comfortable. Inviting parents into the school is a first step toward excellent school culture. Parents should feel welcome and that the invitation is genuine. If principals create systematic, integrated opportunities across the whole school where parents can be involved, parental engagement increases within the school. On the other side of the coin, teacher home-visits create a level of trust within the teacher-parent relationship. It allows for humanization, viewing each other as a person instead of “the teacher” or “a parent.” Positive communication enhances school culture.

2. Creating a long-term plan for student academic success

Student success is the coveted benchmark that proves the effectiveness of our efforts. With a finite number of days to see progress, sometimes teachers can lose sight of long-term success, and it’s up to us to create opportunities to remind people that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Vertical curriculum within the school ensures that the standards are aligned from grade-to-grade and that students will be receiving the same quality education over time. Student portfolios, data, and analytics are good ways to see student improvement over time. Additionally, when students transfer to new schools, they can take this information with them for their new school to use.

3. Cultivating leadership in others

Has anyone ever asked you what you would do if you could clone yourself? My clone would double my productivity or at least do the less fun tasks. Surely we could all benefit from having a replica to work alongside of us. The truth of the matter is that that just isn’t possible. We can’t be everywhere and help with everything. So, you need to cultivate other leaders within your school. The teachers that you work with are professionals; give them autonomy to make certain important decisions. Run problem-solving workshops that will allow them to be more independent and to take more professional development classes to gain a broader scope of knowledge.

4. Managing people, data, and processes

The crux of most problems within schools is time management—not in the conventional sense of time management, where teachers need to pay attention to how long they’re running their lessons, but more in the sense of managing work-life balance. Can we spend an extra five hours after school every day creating the best lesson plans, professional development activities, and assessment reports? Yes. Does anyone necessarily want to do that? Probably not. It’s our job, as principals, to make sure that we’re making life as easy as possible for teachers with whom we work. Tools like Illuminate, KlassData, and Moodle can automate a lot of what goes into assessment, grading papers, and lesson planning. Little efforts like these save teachers hours of time per week, which can have a positive effect on the quality the of work environment.

5. Improving School Leadership


Arguably, two of the most important determiners of school success are teacher efficacy followed by good school leadership. We’re there to support our teachers who are on the front line directly working with the students. Our job is to provide teachers with the right tools to better teach their students and the platform to better work with their students. We’ll be successful as long as we keep the mindset that we’re there not only to help teachers be successful but, more importantly, to help students be successful.