A principal is the highest-ranking school administrator responsible for managing operations, personnel, and other resources. The principal helps teachers run their classrooms effectively, ensures that students are learning valuable lessons they can use later in life, and ensures the school’s budget is being spent properly.
Becoming a good school principal requires a lot of responsibility and hard work because you must ensure that your students are getting the best education possible while keeping them safe from harm or danger.
Having established that, here are a few must-have qualities for becoming a good and successful school principal.
You need a bachelor’s degree in education or another related field, such as business administration or public service leadership. This should be followed by a master’s degree, preferably in education. Even obtaining a degree from any of the popular 1 year online master’s in education programs will help you in your career. Whichever university you choose should have an extensive curriculum and at the same time, educate you on all the modern-day requirements of a top school principal.
You’ll also want to look into obtaining additional certifications and licenses that will allow you to do your job more effectively and efficiently. These credentials could include:
- Certification in School Administration
- Certification for School Leadership (also known as superintendent certification)
- Certification for School Finance
In most U.S. states, having a Ph.D. is not mandatory for becoming a school principal. However, you must have at least five years of teaching experience to become a principal.
Leadership is the ability to motivate and inspire others. It’s not just about being a boss. A good leader must be able to develop their staff, set an example for them, make decisions, and take responsibility for them. Leadership skills can be learned, but they don’t come easily. You have to work at it every day if you are going to lead well.
Communication is not just about speaking. It’s also about listening. It’s not just about writing. It’s also about body language. Communication is a complex process that requires you to understand the context of what you are communicating and how your audience will interpret your message.
In an ideal world, every school principal would have all these qualities in equal measure. However, principals need to recognize their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to the communication process. If they don’t make this assessment, their effectiveness as leaders will be limited at best.
Being a good listener also means being able to listen without judgment or criticism. You may have an idea in mind of what’s best for your students, but it’s important not to judge them when they do something wrong. That’s because everyone makes mistakes from time to time. So, it’s important for anyone who wants to become a good principal that they learn how not to judge people too harshly when something goes wrong.
Having empathy means you will be more compassionate toward others and able to handle difficult situations with patience and kindness. For example, if a teacher asks for extra resources for their classroom but doesn’t receive them in time, an empathetic principal would be able to offer them understanding instead of berating the request for not being met on time.
The same goes for parents who might call up upset because their child was punished unfairly or given too much homework on a Friday afternoon. An empathetic principal will listen respectfully instead of getting defensive themselves.
Research has shown that high levels of empathy go a long way in helping people be more productive in cooperative learning environments. As a good principal, you, too, must ensure this practice at your school. Once you take the lead on this, your teachers will follow you and improve the learning environment at the school.
Time Management Skills
You need to be able to manage your time well. A principal has many responsibilities, so you must plan ahead and prioritize tasks.
You should also make sure that you leave enough time for completing each task before moving on to the next one. Make sure that all deadlines are set, and then stick with them.
Studies show that school principals in the States often work more than 50 hours a week. So, you must learn to manage time for all your tasks. Otherwise, it will become hard to manage all your duties and responsibilities, both in your professional and personal life.
If you have all these qualities, you can become a great school principal. However, you need to note that no one has all the qualities at once. Therefore, you must develop the ability to use different skills and form a blend of them so that they complement each other.