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New Principals: Spotlight on Relationship-Building

Communicator
November 2014, Volume 38, Issue 3

While new principals feel confident about their schools’ safety and instructional quality, parent involvement presents a challenge.

That’s just one finding from the October Rise and Shine brief, which presents survey results from NAESP’s National Panel of New Principals. The panel aims to explore the challenges and triumphs of early career principals, along with the solutions they find most effective. Each month, the panel of first- and second-year principals answers a few brief questions about their experiences and what has helped them address challenges. Last month, the panel explored programs and relationships within their schools.

Most new principals report excellent relationships with students (99 percent of panelists), staff (97 percent), and parents (94 percent). But, interestingly, less than half of panelists report feeling confident about parent involvement in their school, perhaps indicating that this is an area that principals hope to grow. 

 
Here are a few “aha” moments about working with families, submitted by panelists:
 
  • “We had some new students arrive six weeks after school started. They had a hard time adjusting, and I realized we did not have a process in place for welcoming new students and their families—so we are now creating a new student orientation.” 

- Tracy Westerman, Christel House Academy, Indianapolis, Indiana
 
  • “[I had an “aha” moment] when I discovered how to work with a difficult parent. At the end of the day, she just wanted someone to listen to her.” 

– Okeelah McBride, Moon Elementary, Muskegon, Michigan
 
  • “[I’ve realized] the power of a positive phone call home to increase morale and share good news with families.” 

- Michael Carlson, East Moriches School, East Moriches, New York
 
Resource Roundup 
New principals say these resources are helping them navigate relationships and challenges at school. 
 
Books
 
The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
 
Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky
 
Your First Year as a Principal: Everything You Need to Know that They Do Not Teach You in School by Tena Green
 
TED Talks 
 
Discover more findings in the full Rise and Shine brief

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