The My Two Cents question for this month is: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received from a peer or mentor, and how have you applied it in your career?
In addition to the responses published in the January/February issue of Principal, here’s what some of your colleagues have shared with us:
When someone makes a quick request in the hall or while you are walking with someone, your response should be “Let me think about that and I will get back to you.” With that response each time, I found I thought about what was our mission, did this align with our goals, and did we need to make a quick decision that was not an emergency. Interestingly, my staff appreciated the time I took and respected my decision when we discussed the rationale!
Nancy S. FrenettePrincipal Braintree Elementary SchoolBraintree, Vermont
Every principal should allocate a certain amount of time—whether it’s 8, 12, or 15 hours a day—that they will normally spend doing their work. And when that time is up, leave and enjoy home, family, or other activities. If you do, you will find that you tend to be more energetic, prioritize your work flow, minimize your distractions, and accomplish more over time. I have followed this principle every day of my life as a principal. 
Jim BaldwinPrincipalCentre Ridge Elementary SchoolCentreville, Virginia
Add to the conversation by offering your best advice with fellow principals.

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re: Share Your Best Advice

My mentor during my administrative internship always said not to make major changes upon taking a new position. That advice is pretty standard. He followed that with a corollary--Look for ways to make small, non-controversial changes. The little things can be big things in the eyes of a faculty forming their first impressions of a new leader.

A year ago when a close friend was in the first month of her first principalship, I happened to overhear as one of her teachers said to her, “I just want to tell you how much all of the little things you are doing means,” and went on to tell of how word of little things getting done was spreading into the community. I that moment, I could hear the words of my mentor with the words he had spoken 15 years ago.