Principal Hotline: What Do I Do if I Miss Teaching?

I miss the kids, and the reading, and the kids, and the field trips, and the kids …

Dear Principal Hotline,

I wanted to be a principal since my second year of teaching, but now that I am one, I miss teaching so much. It’s not that I miss the frustrating stuff, like grading, but I do miss the family-like feeling and the daily interactions. I miss the fun, the stories, the really cool teachable moments.

I miss coming in and finding out what happened with my students during the in-between hours. Did Jasper’s mom come home from visiting her sick mother? Was Emily’s grandmother excited to see that she can really read now? It’s not that I don’t have interactions with kids anymore, but it’s not the same. The admin thing is just so much more removed than I thought it would be. Some moments I’m completely indispensable, and others I’m totally irrelevant. I just don’t feel like I’m making the difference I made when I was a teacher. Is this just me?


Hindsight Is 20-20


Dear Hindsight Is 20-20,


This isn’t just you. It absolutely makes sense that, since you’re not on the front lines, you’re feeling a bit removed from the experience of shaping tiny lives. You are not, however, irrelevant.

Every single thing you do, every day, in one way or another, affects how your entire building functions. Principals can lift schools to incredible success or break them entirely. You set the tone, you build the atmosphere, you create the ways time and space are used. The impact these decisions have aren’t as tangible as the a-ha moment a student has when she finally understands why 7 x 8 = 56, but they’re just as significant. 

Your mere existence is important. You are the legend teachers tell to keep their unruly students in line!

Teachers can’t do what they do if you don’t do what you do.

It really sounds like you’re missing the personal connections with your students. You might want to start having weekly or monthly lunches with kids. You could develop an initiative to make every student feel seen and heard. Some other options include reading to the younger classes on Friday afternoons, having lunch in the cafeteria with a different class every week, being outside with the students for recess, or creating some sort of after-school program.

Find one thing you’re passionate about and would like to help change.

You’re in a position where you could create building-wide initiatives that make a difference in your school community. Technology makes connecting more regularly even easier.

The only constraints are your imagination and your budget. And it does not take a lot of money to spend time with students.

What I’m saying is stay positive and never let yourself feel insignificant. You’re so very far from it.


Each week, our brave school leadership expert answers your toughest questions about the daily adventures and challenges we all face as we strive to make our schools great places for kids to learn. Have a question? Email it to