There is no silver bullet for how to be an effective principal. If you ask 100 principals what is their strategy in running a school, you'll likely get 100 different answers. Styles vary, but quality doesn't. Be the best principal you know how to be, and then add strategies to your repertoire as you learn from others. For me, my mantra was being pro-active. I wanted to be ahead of the curve at my school, and I used these five daily rituals that I held close to my heart to help reach that goal:
1) Greet each morning: If you ever needed me in the morning, you would find me at the car rider line greeting students as they walked in. As my safety patrol opened doors, students got out of the car and shook my hand as they walked into the building. It allowed me to quickly assess if there were any students possibly having an off morning and then follow up later. My assistant principal did the same at buses.
2) Every classroom, every day: I spent the first part of my morning visiting (even if for a few seconds) every classroom. Visibility matters, and students and staff knowing that you are there for them was important to me. It was an easy way to get a pulse for how everyone was doing that day.
3) Assistant principal check-in: My AP and I checked in with each other at least once (usually way more) daily. This allowed us to discuss any tasks, issues, updates, events, and so on that were happening in the school. Sometimes it was just for a few seconds, sometimes minutes, but it was important to us to be on the same page with everything going on.
4) Reward the positive: There are no shortage of negative situations that come across your desk. Student behavior can get the best of your day, and before you know it, all you've done is discipline. While I have yet to meet an administrator who learned how to completely eliminate that from their school, I wanted to make sure I took the time to reward the positive behaviors first. If you school has any type of positive reward system (we had Houses and students earned points for them), be on the lookout for the great things going on. I realized that when my mindset was looking for the positive, I did not get as overwhelmed by the negative.
5) Inbox scan: Before I left for the day, I made sure that I had viewed every email that had come through that day. That doesn't mean I responded or had taken action on them all, but if there was an urgent action or pressing situation, it would not be sitting unaddressed overnight. The rest of them would be fine to take care of later.
Having these five daily rituals helped me get through the tough days and make most days easier. What are some of your daily rituals as an administrator?