The Principal’s Partner

Topics: Assistant Principals

For APs, supporting the principal often means following his or her vision for change while you accumulate the knowledge and experience necessary to assume the seat yourself, school leaders said in “What Effective Assistant Principals Do to Smooth the Everyday Leadership Realities in Schools,” an online panel discussion NAESP held late last year.

Here are a few nuggets of advice they shared to help APs build partnership with their principals:

  1. Don’t second-guess. “The worst thing you can say while you’re learning is ‘I would have done it this way,’” said panelist Mykia Cadet, assistant principal at Everett Just Middle School in Lake Arbor, Maryland. “For me, being a better leadership partner means understanding your principal’s lens, but also seeing what they can’t see—not just what you think you would do, but what would be best for the school. I’m your partner, and that’s your vision—even if I wouldn’t have done it that way.”
  2. Take the ball and run with it. “It’s so important to have initiative,” said panelist Kelvin Moore, instructional director of Area 2 Middle Schools for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) in Maryland. “Whatever the quality of the principal you serve, make sure your leadership qualities are going to shine. [It’s important] for an AP to understand the nuances of school improvement and change management. We don’t always have perfect conditions, but it’s important to go after the ball.”
  3. Build capacity in concert. “If you think you could do it better, this is your time to build your capacity to fill that seat,” said moderator Equetta Jones, then the AP of Highlands Elementary School in Wilmington, Delaware. “This is a learning opportunity: How can we build you in this area and build me in this area, so we can look great together? It takes a family unit to grow—none of us can do this themselves.”

Click here to view the discussion.