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I love being a principal of a school. There is nothing else that I want be doing at this point in my life. This does not mean that I enjoy every aspect of my job. There are certainly aspects that I could do without, but the positives far outweigh the negatives for me. This is my dream job.
Being the principal of a school is demanding, but it is also rewarding. You must be thick skinned, hard working, diligent, flexible, and creative to be a good principal. It is not a job for just anyone. There are days that I question my decision to become a principal. However, I always bounce back knowing that the reasons I love being a principal are more powerful than the reasons I hate it.
Reasons I Love Being a Principal of a School
I love making a difference. It is fulfilling to see the aspects that I have a direct hand in making a positive impact on students, teachers, and the school as a whole. I love collaborating with teachers, offering feedback, and seeing them grow and improve in their classroom from day to day and year to year. I enjoy investing time in a difficult student and seeing them mature and grow to the point that they lose that label. I am proud when a program I helped create flourishes and evolves into a significant component of the school.
I love having a larger impact. As a teacher, I made a positive impact on the students I taught. As a principal, I have made a positive impact on the entire school. I am involved with every aspect of the school in some way. Hiring new teachers, evaluating teachers, writing school policy, and establishing programs to meet school-wide needs all impact the school as a whole. These things likely will go unnoticed by others when I make the right decision, but it is satisfying to see others being positively impacted by a decision I made.
I love working with people. I love working with the different groups of people that I am able to as a principal. This includes other administrators, teachers, support staff, students, parents, and community members. Each sub-group requires me to approach them differently, but I enjoy the collaboration with all of them. I realized early on that I work with people as opposed to against them. This has helped shape my overall educational leadership philosophy. I enjoy building and maintaining healthy relationships with the constituents of my school.
I love being a problem solver. Every day brings about a different set of challenges as a principal. I have to be adept at problem solving to get through each day. I love coming up with creative solutions, which are often outside the box. Teachers, parents, and students come to me on a daily basis seeking answers. I must be able to provide them with quality solutions that will satisfy the problems they have.
I love motivating students. I enjoy finding entertaining and unusual ways to motivate my students. Over the years, I've spent a cold November night on the roof of the school, jumped out of an airplane, dressed like a woman, and sang Karaoke to Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe in front of the entire school. It has generated a lot of buzz and the students absolutely love it. I know that I look crazy while I am doing these things, but I want my students to be excited about coming to school, reading books, etc. and these things have been effective motivational tools.
I love the pay check. My gross salary was $24,000 the first year I taught. It is hard for me to fathom how I survived. Luckily, I was single at the time, or it would have been difficult. The money is certainly better now. I am not a principal for the pay check, but I cannot deny that making more money is an enormous benefit to becoming an administrator. I work extremely hard for the money that I make, but my family is able to live comfortably with some extras that my parents were never able to afford when I was a kid.
Reasons I Hate Being a Principal of a School
I hate playing politics. Unfortunately, there are many aspects of public education that is political. In my opinion, politics dilutes education. As a principal, I understand that it is necessary to be political in many cases. There are many times that I want to call parents out on when they come to my office and blow smoke about how they are going to handle their child. I refrain from this because I know that it is not in the school's best interest to do so. It is not always easy to bite your tongue, but sometimes it is best.
I hate dealing with the negative. I deal with complaints on a daily basis. It is a large part of my job, but there are days when it becomes overwhelming. Teachers, students, and parents like to gripe and moan about each other continuously. I feel confident in my ability to handle and smooth things over. I am not one of those that sweep things under the rug. I spend the necessary time to investigate any complaint, but these investigations can be time daunting and time consuming.
I hate being the bad guy. My family and I recently went on vacation to Florida. We were watching a street performer when he picked me to help him with a part of his act. He asked me my name and what I did. When I told him I was a principal, I got booed by the audience. It is sad that being a principal has such a negative stigma associated to it. I have to make difficult decisions every day, but they are often based on mistakes of others.
I hate standardized testing. I loathe standardized testing. I believe that standardized tests should not be the end all evaluation tool for schools, administrators, teachers, and students. At the same time, I understand that we live in an era with an overemphasis of standardized testing. As a principal, I feel that I am forced to push that overemphasis of standardized testing on my teachers and on my students. I feel like a hypocrite for doing so, but I understand that current academic success is measured by testing performance whether I believe it is right or not.
I hate telling teachers no because of a budget. Education is an investment. It is an unfortunate reality that many schools do not have the technology, curriculum, or teachers necessary to maximize learning opportunities for students due to a budget shortfall. Most teachers spend a significant amount of their own money to buy things for their classroom when the district tells them no. I have had to tell teachers no, when I knew they had a fantastic idea, but our budget just would not cover the expense. I have a hard time doing that at the expense of our students.
I hate the time it takes away from my family. A good principal spends a lot of time in his office when no one else is in the building. They are often the first one to arrive and the last to leave. They attend almost every extra curricular event. I know that my job requires a significant investment of time. This investment of time takes time away from my family. My wife and boys understand, and I am appreciative of that. It is not always easy, but I try to ensure a balance of my time between work and family.