What New Principals Need

A recent Twitter chat highlighted the challenges and successes of early career principals.

This article is part of a series focusing on The Principal Pipeline, brought to you with support from The Wallace Foundation.

November, 2016, Volume 40, Issue 3

NAESP hosted a Twitter Chat for early-career principals on November 15 using the new hashtag #NAESPchat. This chat helped principals make connections and learn from the mentor principals and veterans who joined in. Joe Mazza, the director of leadership and innovation development at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and a former school principal, served as co-host and answered questions and shared resources.

Chatters shared their greatest challenges: Time management; getting teachers to be innovative and break out of old habits; balancing concern for students and staff; and cultivating relationships and building trust.

But understanding school culture—and listening, not fixing—is a “HUGE point!” Mazza tweeted. “CULTURE is so much bigger than one person, and we must listen and observe long enough to respect it.”

The group agreed that finding a good mentor is a very important and difficult job. “You need to find a safe person to put trust in who will not judge your Qs and will provide productive feedback and advice,” posted Lori Vandebourne.

And the best advice they ever got from those mentors?

  • “It’s going to be OK!”
  • “Never take the actions of others personally,”
  • “Listen, reflect, discuss, reflect,… and act appropriately!”
  • “Moral leadership and character education are just as (if not more) important than academic learning.”
  • “Keep it all about the students.”
  • “Always challenge my learning–continue to make the best decisions for your [students] and [teachers] even when it is hard.”
  • “Remember and empathize what it’s like to be the ‘new teacher.’”

And 2016 National Distinguished Principal Brad Gustafson added that “It’s also extremely important to add those who think and believe differently than us to our networks.”

Mazza tweeted that it’s important to have multiple networks—that “every fellow thinker will help make sense of the work.”

Chatters also traded time management tips and tools, including Google Plus, Showbie, and Evernote.

If you missed this chat, search on #NAESPchat on Twitter, and be sure to join us on November 29 for another chat on professional learning opportunities, also sponsored by the Wallace Foundation.

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