7 Things I Learned in My First Year as Principal

Chris StevensWith a new school year beginning, I thought it would be nice to take a deep breath and reflect on my first full year as a head principal. It has quickly flown by faster than I ever would have dreamed.

In July of 2013 I made the move from being the Assistant Principal of Shoals Jr/Sr High School to the Principal of Orleans Elementary.

Elementary is a different world than Jr/Sr High, but it was a refreshing change. I’ve really enjoyed my time here. The entire community has been very welcoming, the staff is top notch, and the students are full of energy.

This post is a way for me to capture some of the important lessons I learned in this milestone year of my career. There may be other lessons like “exercise every day to keep the sweets and birthday cake pounds off”. But here are the main ones I came up with:

  1. Surround yourself with people who are better than you. If you are the most intelligent or skilled person on your team, your organization will never exceed your ability.
  2. Show grace to those you lead because you may need them to return it one day. Before correcting staff, consider how you do it. How would you want the boss to speak to you after you just messed up?
  3. Leading involves being ahead of the crowd. You must take the time to carefully consider trends. Know what’s coming so you can navigate your organization to the proper place.
  4. Communication and organization are priceless. Just when you think you’ve said it too many times, someone is just really hearing it for the first time. Additionally, your staff will appreciate the extra lengths you take to keep things simple.
  5. Always give more weight to the thoughts of team members than your critics. You can usually find an ounce of truth in the voice of the critic, but they don’t care about you the way your team does. Always take time to listen and address the team’s concerns.
  6. You have to take care of yourself, or you won’t be able to take care of others. If you are sick, fatigued, or uninspired, you won’t be able to lead anyone. Make yourself a priority. It’s not selfish.
  7. Success comes as a result of consistently doing little things in an extraordinary way. Novice leaders usually think they need to turn an organization on its head when they come in. It’s usually just the opposite. Do little things extremely well and success will follow.

Do you have any thoughts on these seven lessons? I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave them in the comments section or share it with others that you think would benefit!


About Chris Stevens

I'm an Elementary Principal, husband, father of three, and an imperfect follower of Christ. I have eight years experience at the Jr-Sr High level and 14 years experience speaking at various churches.
This entry was posted in Education, Leadership, Principals and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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