By Chera Bessire
Below are my 10 tips and reminders for Assistant Principals. If you are just beginning, hang in there. If you are further down the road in your career, stop and remember why you got into this role and continue to enjoy the ride!
10. Have a meeting agenda and value teacher’s time. This does not mean a hidden agenda, but have a plan. No one (yourself included) wants to attend a meeting just to attend a meeting.
9. Know what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t commit to things you know you really can’t commit to. Take time to really think about your core beliefs about education and children and don’t sway from these. If you tell a teacher you will be in their classroom at a certain time for a lesson or a parent conference, be there! Oftentimes it is easy to become distracted and get caught up in a moment somewhere else, but if you commit to something, do it.
8. Make all decisions with kids in mind. This is a hard one. So many times, I want to do what I think is best for teachers or what fits the schedule best, but in reality, we need to base all decisions on what is best for kids. I also try to keep my own children in mind when making decisions and reflect on if it’s not good enough for my children, then it isn’t good enough for anyone else’s children either.
7. Go home at night and refocus. We are guilty of thinking school cannot go on without us or that we are the only person who can take care of certain things. Wrong! Good people who are capable of working hard and doing the right thing surround you. Take care of yourself. You cannot be the best for everyone else every day when you never take any time for yourself.
6. Tell the truth. Hard conversations are not fun, but crucial. When having a difficult conversation with someone, be kind but factual. The biggest step in having a hard conversation is being willing to have it. Have a plan and do not ever have the conversation when you might still be upset or do not have all the facts.
5. Say yes when you can. There are going to be many times you will have to say no, so say yes when you can. Think about your day today and I bet you could find at least one situation when you could have just told someone yes, and moved on and it would have made their day. Even though it might not be the way you would have done it or even if you disagreed, if you can say yes when teachers ask, then say it!
4. Love every kid. Yes, every kid. Sometimes the hardest ones to love provide the most rewarding experience. Find a way to connect with the challenging kid or the difficult parent. Know their interests and actually spend some time with them in a positive manner.
3. Talk to parents. This may sound silly but take the time to say hi, shake hands, sit beside parents for a minute at lunch or during drop off. If you get parents on your team, it will make school life better for everyone. Try to learn as many names as possible and go out of your way to speak to parents when you can greet them at school or in public.
2. Ask teachers what they want. Teachers do not always want you to have a solution; they just want to be heard. When they come to you and are frustrated, help intervene but ask them what they really want for the outcome. Then remember #5 and say yes when you can.
1. Work hard and be nice to people. Most people have good intentions. Teachers are overworked and overwhelmed just like you and me. I believe teachers come to school every day to offer their best and that parents send us their best kid every morning, too. Sometimes everyone’s ‘best’ might not be so good, but it is what we must work with. What if every day we all dedicated ourselves to working hard and simply being nice to people? Imagine the difference we could make!
Chera Bessire, the 2017 National Assistant Principal of the Year for Texas, is assistant principal of Bennett Elementary in Frenship ISD.
TEPSA News, March/April 2018, Vol 75, No 2
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