Principals don’t have the power to give out raises or lavish everyone with expensive gifts. I would love it but that just isn’t in our power. What is in our power is our voice. One of the simplest ways for schools to bring happiness to their teachers begins by sharing a positive message.

It is so easy to get caught up in worrying about school accountability, student success, and constantly measuring our performance that we forget about the things that make people want to be a part of our campus. Making our school a happy place to go to work every day is an essential piece to the success of our school. A happy work environment attracts good people and helps the people who work for you do the best for the school.

Having a happy campus is achievable. Here’s a little bit of research on happiness. The feeling of buying something new or receiving a gift creates happiness. It is considered short term happiness. It is exciting but short-lived. The next level of happiness, which lasts longer, is the feeling that you have a pleasant life. That kind of feeling comes from liking what you are doing and feeling good about your job. The most sustainable level of happiness is being able to feel like you are giving back to this world. As school leaders and educators, that is exactly what we are doing. Teachers need to know they are making a difference. You notice their contribution and significance on the campus. Why not let them know it?

A sincere Thank You goes a long way. Best practice of being thankful is to let the person know exactly why you are thankful for them either in their performance or their actions. This shows the teacher you pay genuine attention to their efforts.

Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone matters. I matter. You matter. We all matter. Everyone needs to feel their importance on campus. A simple way to let your teachers know they matter is to say it. It’s okay to let the teacher know they “rocked the lesson” or “you like the way they handled a situation.” Another simple way to let a teacher know they matter is to listen. Take time to listen and make eye contact. This lets them know you care about what they have to say. Everyone you meet and come in contact all want the same thing in life. They want to matter.

Admitting fault is something great principals do. They don’t pass the buck or blame. We set the example. When we take the fall, it sets a risk-taking environment. It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to not know all the answers. When a teacher falls short on performance or struggles in the classroom, we should recognize a lack of service to this individual. It is our job to provide everything necessary for the teacher to perform satisfactorily or at a proficient level. When a school event goes chaotic, assume responsibility for the oversight of important details. It is not always the teacher’s fault when students are out-of-control or when a parent is upset. Things just happen. I have made many mistakes as a leader. I don’t deny it. However, I do learn from every mistake. All leaders have made mistakes. Even if the fault is not really your fault take the hit for it. The bottom line isn’t really about finding who’s at fault. It is really about finding a remedy to the solution.

These 4 very simple words, “what do you think” have a big impact. Powerful. When you let teachers come up with ideas and then give them the credit for it, you make that person feel better about their contribution and success of the campus. Your expertise only goes so far. Successful principals and school leaders who achieve any level of success can only do so with a team of very smart people. Asking “What do you think” is key to good leadership. It allows the staff to express their opinion. It shows that you are interested in what they have to say. Even if you don’t use their idea or opinion at that time you gave them an opportunity to share what they think. It shows that you are interested and that is just as important.

What Makes an Effective School Leader?

What makes an effective school leader? The definition of a leader is one who leads or commands a group or organization. It is vital in a school system to have strong and effective leaders. So who are theses leaders in the school system? A synonym for leader is actually principal. Principals are key in the smooth success of schools. So what qualities define a leader? What makes someone an effective one?

Here are a few characteristics of an effective school leader:

1) They are very ambitious and have high expectations for the success of their pupils.

2) They consistently show that anything can be achieved despite being disadvantaged.

3) They are always working on their personal development and how they can improve their teaching and learning skills.

4) They are skilled at assessing and tracking the progress of pupils and provide the appropriate support based on detailed knowledge of each individual.

5) They care about the progress and personal development of every pupil and keep all of them included.

6) They have a clear vision for what is best for students — for their academic, social, and emotional learning.

7) They know that high-functioning teams are essential; they know that a healthy community (for children and staff) will contribute to stability, retention, and investment.

8) They are emotionally intelligent. They are typically calm, grounded, empathetic, and are able to deal with conflict between people.

Positive School Culture

From my personal view, the principal of a school is mainly responsible for creating a positive school culture and is the one person who can make or break it.

Principals should push to make sure their schools are exceptional by encompassing these characteristics:

-Positive and uplifting leadership. It is the obligation of a school’s principal to be enlivened, inspired, and committed in the spirit and the demeanor of everyone in the school. Your example will set the tone for everyone else around you. Make sure to communicate and display good values and respectable behavior. The faculty will definitely notice your behavior and feel compelled to mimic it, and then the students will be more likely to follow and adopt that same behavior as their own.

-Mutual respect. Establishing mutual respect is key to opening all doors—conversation, understanding, discipline, etc.—with your teachers, counselors, students, and parents.

-Making sure everyone feels included. Acknowledge work that is done well and get to know those around you, because they are all a part of your team. Everyone will work best together when they all feel like they have a role.

Making a School a Safe Space

A school should be a safe space for everyone and it is up to the principal to set the tone for creating that safe feeling. Students should feel like they can come to the principal with any problems they might have and expect a compassionate adult who is actively listening and working with them to find a solution. Principals should also encourage teachers to contribute new ideas to make the school better and, overall, model what the best choices are.
Principals should set the bar for everyone in your school community regarding how to act, how to speak, how to regard others, and how to lead. It is your job to help everyone become the best version of themselves. A positive school culture may be only an aspiration or idea to some, but do your best to implement it in your school, and turn it from an idea into a practice. And then, principals, make it the principle.