What Does A School Principal ACTUALLY Do?

We are sure many of you at at least one point
in your life have been sent to the dreaded principal’s office for some kind of classroom
infraction. You know very well what the principle does
then; he or she gives you a firm telling off, or perhaps he listens to your story and offers
some sound advice. It’s not usually a pleasant trip. But a principal’s job isn’t just about keeping
the peace and ensuring the students are in line, far from it. Their world is also a world of analyzing data,
meeting parents, attending conferences, applying educational standards, and for most people
drinking a lot of coffee because it’s a pretty demanding job. Today we’ll look more closely at what these
people do all day. First of all, how do you actually get in the
big seat? Principles are usually not the youngest of
people, and that’s because you have to put some time in first as a teacher. Countries might differ as to what is expected
of someone who wants to become a principle. A small town in the middle of nowhere might
not be as stringent in hiring a principal for a primary school as an expensive private
high school might be in a big city when they hire a principal. Regardless, you’re usually expected to have
earned a bachelors’ degree. We went to the job website Indeed and had
a look at job postings for principals, and we can tell the “duties and responsibilities”
part of the job offer put us off right away. It seems some schools were looking for someone
who might resemble someone more like Superman than a school administrator. The list of abilities, and skills, and personal
qualities required made it sound like they were looking for human perfection, but for
at least one job we looked at least the pay was up to $110,267, so that’s not such a
bad amount once you’ve mastered everything. Here are some things required for this position. You must have success in “in philosophy,
curriculum, and instruction.” You must know all kinds of instructional strategies
and improve structural programs. You need to be effective in planning, allocating
resources, scheduling, finding logical conclusions and making good decisions while using appropriate
decision-making processes. You need to know the latest education-related
computer tech. You must have great judgement, formidable
insights, while exercising self-awareness at all times and have tip-top integrity. You must motivate not only students, but teachers
and other staff, while continuously reaching goals and setting new standards. And these are merely a few in a long list
of attributes required to get that job. But in terms of academic qualifications, yep,
they all asked for that bachelor’s degree. That’s pretty much right at the bottom of
what you’ll need, like saying a brain surgeon will need eyes and hands…and a brain. After that, some places will require that
you have a master’s degree, but not all. You’ll also need some kind of teaching credential,
which differs from country to country. In many places you will also need an administrator’s
license, but as we say, this can change depending on where you teach. You will need teaching experience and some
administration experience, but how many years differs from school to school. One job we found asked for at least five years’
teaching experience and three years’ admin experience. Many principals have been heads of departments
or years before they climbed up through the ranks to the big boss chair. So, you’ve demonstrated you have more skills
than any human is actually, really capable of, and you have the certificates and experience. You impressed in the interview and you have
the job. Ok, what are you expected to do? Well, before you even reprimand your first
student for fighting in the hallway you’ll have to know a lot about the philosophy of
teaching, sometimes called pedagogy. You’ll be fluent in various instructional
strategies and how to understand data. You’ll be cool-headed and responsible, knowing
how to get the best out of your teachers and students. You’ll have strategies to get both teachers
and students through the curriculum. You’ll apply your strategies to meet the
standards of the curriculum. You’ll also understand various computer
technologies related to teaching and admin. Let’s say you know all that, what about
your job day to day? Well, there’s the goal and there’s the
daily operations. The main goal is to implement curriculum standards
set by the governing body in a district or country. The day to day job is that you manage the
school, the teachers, the students. Your target is to get people through school
with good grades, and that in turn makes the school look good. If 80 percent of students are getting straight
A’s something is going right, and parents will want to send their kids to that school. The school gets a good name and the principal
can bask in the light emitted from his computer monitor. He doesn’t get out much. But another important aspect of this management
thing can be a little bit like coaching. Ask any teacher how many meetings they have
to attend in which the principle tells them about goals, usually with the aid of some
PowerPoint slides and some jokes he thinks are funny. There will be coffee and cake, too, which
is always a bonus after a three-hour instructional marathon that keeps getting interrupted by
teachers putting their hand up. That coaching is also done in the principal’s
office, and there is usually a queue of people wanting to see this person. He won’t go a day without hearing a complaint
from a teacher or having to tell a teacher they need to improve somehow. The same goes for students. If a particular student is troublesome or
lagging behind, he might have to visit that office for a bit of coaching. If that isn’t enough, he will also be in
almost constant talks with parents who are just curious about their child or are annoyed
about something related to their child’s education. That’s quite the job in itself, but we are
not even close to finishing. A principal will also do workshops, observe
teachers now and again, and just walk around and see how things are going. He will attend events, such as concerts or
sports games. He will make sure the school is properly maintained,
and in many cases will have to figure out the budget for the huge amount of services
and supplies the school needs. He must ensure the school is secure and safe,
for kids, for teachers, for visitors. He’ll know the security guard, if there
is one, by name. He’ll likely get along with the cleaning
staff. He’s the face of the school, and so he’ll
also have to get to know the community, the people who fund the school, the legislators. This already sounds like too much, but as
we said, they are expected to be walking perfection. In some schools this can be too much, even
for a super-principal, so he will have an assistant-principal. Heads of departments also help to lessen his
burden, but in the end they all report to the principal. The job doesn’t usually make the list of
“Most Stressful Jobs”, but it can be very stressful, especially if academic standards
aren’t being met, or parents are constantly screaming at you, or one wayward student just
punched you in the face. This can happen, but some principals have
gone into schools that were chaos and turned things around. A real super-principal can assess problems
and find solutions. Let’s say that a principal has a student
who has been referred to them because of discipline problems. This might in some cases be little kids lashing
out in the classroom, but it might be much more serious. We all know that teachers have been attacked
in the past, and this happens pretty much everywhere at some point. This is where the principal becomes the counselor,
the mediator, knowing how to be stern but also knowing or trying to know why this student
is problematic. If that principal can gain that student’s
trust and help encourage him or her to do and be better, then that principal has done
a good job. Sometimes the kids just have to go. It happens. If disciplinary action is taken, the principal
should be fair. The students on the other hand, have to know
how they are expected to act and what they are expected to do. The principal might look at school policies
and update them, totally rewrite them, or create new policies and rules. The teachers, too, will have a code of conduct,
and they can be fired or not get a new contract for the next school year. They will also have a handbook. They could find themselves in the principal’s
office for not following the dress code; for using bad language in class, for not getting
the right results, perhaps even for losing their temper in class. If a teacher is let go, a new one will have
to be found. The principal will assist in finding that
new teacher, and he will likely have the last say after the interview. This can also be stressful, because if that
teacher turns out to be a bad hire who breaks rules then that also comes back on the principal. How did they miss that in the interview? This does take a special person to do the
job, and not all people are up to the task. In an article in The Atlantic the writer called
the principal, “The Most Misunderstood Person in All of Education.” It said most people think this person spends
all day lecturing students about using bad language and dealing with soppy, or melodramatic,
or overly hostile teachers. But no, they spend much of their time dealing
with the bureaucratic education system. The article said, “The principal is both
the administrative director of state educational policy and a building manager, both an advocate
for school change and the protector of bureaucratic stability.” They are supposed to be an inspiration to
all, a cornerstone of righteousness, not only understanding the latest in teaching methods
and ensuring standards are met, but they have to get a grip with things like youth culture. It’s true, kids will have more respect for
a principal who knows what they are about and where they are coming from. He’s a middle manager to the powers that
be, a foreman, an accountant, a researcher, a spokesperson, and an expert of the ever
evolving culture of the young. He also walks on eggshells. It might be fine for the local artist or truck
driver to go out and sink a few glasses of wine or beer and then let loose a bit, but
a principal really has to watch his behavior. They have to be angels, even though there’s
nothing wrong with letting your hair down. Principals might not have much hair left to
let down as they are under so much pressure. At work and outside work they are expected
to be this perfect person, the ultimate professional. On top of that, they have to have an eagle
eye, a sixth sense, because conflicts are always emerging in these things we call schools. And we are not just talking about conflicts
with students. Any teacher will tell you that tensions rise
in school between colleagues, especially as the year comes to an end. Teachers backstab, tell on each other, argue,
gossip, fight, leading one person to say sometimes teachers are like students that never wanted
to leave school. When conflicts arise, super-principal should
see it and soon be on the scene. The same goes for student conflicts. After hearing all of this would you like to
be a school principal. Have you experienced a good one or a bad one,
a great one, a crazy one? What were they like? Tell us in the comments. Also, be sure to check out our other video
11 Highest Paying Teen Jobs. Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t
forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time.

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