4 Leadership Qualities Teachers want in a Principal

Teachers need their leaders to have strong leadership skills.  What specific skills do they actually need from a principal to be successful? I did a quick survey with my Facebook Leadership Group and one other teacher Facebook group. I had tons of responses.  Let's take a look below.

Teachers need principals who are organized and prepped.  A principal who puts students first.  Someone who knows how to build effective relationships with the staff.

Here are some of the items teachers requested in my survey.
Ownership (don't push them off on others), respect, trust of their staff, support and faith in their employees, presume positive intent, thinking partner, shared leadership, constant learner, allow teachers to try new things, someone who will get their hands dirty, provide opportunities for teachers to take leadership roles and grow, someone who will fight for their teachers, etc...

Here's a few more responses from the teacher survey:

 Trust, not a micro-manager, someone who will fight for the teachers (again), students at the center of every decision, someone who pushes me to be better, someone who offers suggestions, knowledgeable, a decision maker, a principal who remembers what it's like to be in the classroom,  a communicator, an organizer, visible, stands up for me, dedicated, responsible, follows-through, fair, professional, etc..

Here are my 4 leadership qualities teachers need from us to be successful.


Teachers need principals who are organized and prepped.  A principal who puts students first.  Someone who knows how to build effective relationships with the staff.
A campus leader needs to be able to strategize and problem solve.  Think differently and out of the box some times.  There's always a way to accomplish every situation.  Some times you need to step back and see it from a different angle.  Test out new ways of handling situations.  Forge ahead.  Be a problem solver...a go-getter...challenge yourself.  Teachers need principals who think strategically. 

Teachers need principals who are organized and prepped.  A principal who puts students first.  Someone who knows how to build effective relationships with the staff.
 We can get more accomplished when we have our thoughts together.  Same thing goes for all of our "stuff."  If you are OCD (self-diagnosed) like me, I have files for everything.  My files have files.  Laughing out loud.  Color-coded of course. 
Binders and folders store all my important documents.  When the school throws a curve ball in your day, you are armed with all the items at your fingertips.  Teachers need principals to have it together.  We need to be able to run an efficient and effect campus.  Free of chaos.  Being organized helps you attend meetings on time.  It sets an example for your teachers. 

Teachers need principals who are organized and prepped.  A principal who puts students first.  Someone who knows how to build effective relationships with the staff.
Principals must always put students first.  It's that simple.  It's not what's best for me.  It's not what's best for you.  It is what is best for the kids.  It's not always easy.  No one said it would be.  Be a principal who isn't afraid to take a stand and do what's best for our students.  We, as principals, have tough decisions to make.  There are days when we will get yelled at by a parent.  A day when a teacher dislikes your decision.  Do whatever it takes.  Stand firm.  Stand tall.  Promise to put students first.  Our teachers need that.  They need us to lead and deliver.  Make a lasting impact.  Teachers need principals who put students first.

Teachers need principals who are organized and prepped.  A principal who puts students first.  Someone who knows how to build effective relationships with the staff.
Relationships matter.  How you treat people matters.  Good leaders ensure everyone has a voice.  Keep an open mind.  When teachers have ideas, don't shoot them down.  Don't hold teachers back.  Give them the support they need will  help them be success.  When teachers are successful, students are successful.    Build a strong team where everyone works as partners.  When relationships are built on trust, the campus is stronger.  Great teams build each other up and the team becomes stronger.  Building relationships is one of the strongest skills related to leadership effectiveness.  If your campus is divided, chaos and tension-filled, take time to build true lasting relationships.  Teachers need principals who can build a strong unified campus.


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3 Critical Things a Principal can do to Accelerate Growth

If you were to take a minute and list 3 things you're doing in your school or could do this year to accelerate growth in your students, what would you list?  These three things you list are geared to not only accelerating growth but also ensures every child is learning.

Here are the 3 top items I would have on my list:

1.  Collaboration is key to a strong and successful school.  There must be dedicated time for teachers to work together, meet and discuss instruction.  Amazing results will happen will teachers are given the opportunity to discuss and plan together.  Collaboration builds a stronger team.  Teachers need less isolation.   They need to feel the support of one another.  Focused, meaningful collaboration leads to increased  student achievement.  Studies have shown that there is a connection between student achievement and teacher collaboration.  

What you will see in this video:  Leadership teams have power.  The events and discussion that happens in the meetings will trickle down into the classroom.  Classroom instruction improves and therefore student achievement will increase.
Credits: Teaching Channel Video

What administrators can do:
1.  Provide time for teachers to plan together and share resources.  
2.  Teachers need to collaborate on students' progress so that all the teachers who serve the student share ownership of the child's education.  Make time for teachers to work together.  

2.  Dedicated Instructional Time is critical.  Every minute counts.  When I say "dedicated instructional time," I'm referring to the time teachers are actively teaching.   If you read research on this topic, you will find many mixed reviews.  It's my opinion that academic learning time is one of the most important correlates of student achievement.  However, to increase true academic learning, the teaching must be engaging and interactive.  This will produce the greatest achievement and yield better performance from the students.  We want high quality instruction.  We need teachers using research-based instructional approaches.  We need more students actively participating in the lesson.  

3.  Data Analysis is a must in every school.  We can't just use our heart to make decisions.  Dig deep into data and search for the root cause of the weaknesses.  If data analysis is not your strength, there are tons of resources to guide you along in this process.  I have several on Teachers Pay Teachers.  One area of data analysis that I have improved over the years is asking deeper questions.  Go beyond the "what are the areas of weaknesses" type questions when reviewing data.   Use your data to gain an understanding of how students are learning.  Analyze your curriculum resources.  Are the resources the best tools to use?  Are they fully aligned to the state standards?  Create data walls and track student progress.  Data analysis encompasses many areas- RTI, progress monitoring, growth measures, curriculum tools, etc...

How do these all play a critical role in the growth of your students?
They all three go hand-in-hand.  The list of critical success factors could be endless.  We should at least start with three areas to focus.   Maybe these aren't your top three for your campus.  We all have different needs.  Data analysis, Collaboration among teachers and Dedicated Instructional Time are my top 3.  I see this as a cycle.  Teachers talk and collaborate about the best instructional practices.  They use instructional time effectively.  Lessons are engaging and developed based on the data.  The cycle continues again.  When this happens, students will be successful.  It's a win-win.


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Start Your Own Blog

Have you ever thought about blogging?  Maybe you have asked yourself why do people blog?  First things first, let's begin with a little bit of info about the creation of Principal Principles.  I started blogging in 2012 as a way to connect with other school leaders.  Blogging has allowed me to learn from the best principals, school leaders and educators all over the world.  When I first started, I had no idea where to begin.  I just knew I needed some sort of space to be creative and so I just took the leap off into the blogging world with both feet.

First I began creating a blog using Google Blogger.  Some authors use Wordpress.  I use Blogger.  This is called your platform.  All you need to begin is a Google account.  If you don't already have an account, just create one.  It takes just a minute or two to set it up.  Blogger is free. Well, it's free unless you want to get our own domain (.com address).

Then, you need to pick your blog name.  This is called your domain name.  It's your website's address on the internet.  For example my blog is principalprinciples.blogspot.com.  Google is my host.  However, it can get more technical if you purchase your domain name and have a company host it for you.  Popular companies are GoDaddy and 1&1.  These are two of the most common websites for buying domain names.  A popular hosting company I have found is Blue Host.  Blue Host is a hosting company for Wordpress, if you decide to use Wordpress.  (Note: When I first started, I had a website and used 1&1.)  Both have great customer service.  You can't go wrong with either company if you go this route.

 Costs- A personal domain will cost around $15 a year and a hosting service is around $5-6 a month.
So if you want your .com address, you will  need to purchase your domain through companies such as GoDaddy and 1&1.

Ok...enough mumbo jumbo...Let's get to the good stuff.

After creating your account:
Step 1:  Open blogger.  https://www.blogger.com/home
Step 2:  Click NEW BLOG on the left side of your screen.
Step 3:  Name your blog (Be creative)
Step 4:  Pick a design (premade available)
Step 5:  Click Create Blog

You could stop there but no one wants a simple, plain blog.  It is a reflection of you so why not make it beautiful?  I learned all of that the hard way.  I tried to pick some premade templates as a design choice.  It just wasn't me.  I then tried to make my own.  That wasn't good.  It was one of those epic fails.

Then I found Theresa's store Always in Bluhm on Etsy. 
It wasn't by accident that I found her.  I located her blog after reading one of my fellow bloggers blog- School is a Happy Place.  Amber from School is a Happy Place had the same blog design that I currently have now.

All you do now is let your designer do his/her magic.  Theresa from Always In Bluhm logged into my account and made it beautiful for me.  Over the last three years, I have had her do some extras on the blog.  Amazing lady. 

If you choose to stick with the premade templates, you are ready to go.  You can change at any time.  Maybe you are like me and want to give it a try before purchasing designs.  It worked for me for a few weeks and then I just needed something with more glitz and glam.  Some bloggers change their blog design every year.

Step 6:   Click New Post (a post is what you write...your blog entry)
Step 7:  Begin typing and sharing your thoughts.  When you are finished and happy with your blog entry, you can share it with the rest of the world.  Just hit Publish.  No one can see it until you publish it. 
Step 8:  Let your friends and family know about it by sharing it on social media.

This is just a step-by-step introduction into just getting a start-up blog.  There are so many more areas to touch on.  For example, adding high resolution photos, connecting with other bloggers, using hyperlinks, etc...

Just the basic today!

Join the blogging world with me.  I love it and I know you will too.  I'm such a blog stalker!  I have a few favorites that I can't live without.  I have some amazing blog friends that I have never met in person.  We chat almost daily via the internet (social media, text messaging, and Facebook messaging).  I read blogs instead of novels.  I read blogs as my "time away."  Hey, it works for me and I love what I do.


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STAAR Accommodations Made Easy- Printable Resources

The STAAR is quickly coming for 2016.  It is a rigorous state test for Texas students.  One of the best things Texas has done is allowed students with disabilities to have accommodations during the test.  However, understanding the basic principles of accommodations can be overwhelming.  Is this allowed? Who can have the accommodation?  Questions like this run through your mind.

{Note: The decision to use accommodations during state testing is made on an individual basis.  Take into consideration the needs of the student and whether the student routinely uses the accommodation during classroom instruction and testing.  In addition, the student must meet criteria set by T.E.A.} 

I have tried over the last couple of STAAR testing years to make accommodations easy for you.

The triangle on the Texas Education Agency has tons of information.  It can be printed and placed in a binder.  That is how I used to do it.  But one day I had a wonderful idea to make the triangle into a flip book.  It has made life so much easier for me and my teachers.

This is just the front side of the accommodation flip book.  It has two sides because there is too much information for one side.

How I use the flip book:  
I printed it on colored card stock (Astrobright).  Laminated the set and then used the comb binder machine to attach all the pages.
1.  As a principal, my flip book was with me in every ARD, every 504 meeting and every student intervention team meeting.  
2.  Teachers all had their own copies and could easy be prepared for meetings.  It also helped them complete the mountainous amounts of paperwork.

I just finished the STAAR Writing Toolkit.  It was designed with grade 4 in mind but I really think it could be used with grade 7 too.  

I made this easy for you to assemble.  Since the accommodations can't (or shouldn't) be the same for all students, you can put these pages in any order.  You can use all of the accommodations or just use parts of them.  The tabs at the bottom allow you to put the pages in any order.  

I would love to hear from you on what you do to stay organized with STAAR testing.  

I hope you find these resources a big help to you and your students.

{Another note of caution:  Just because it is okay to use accommodations for campus/district level testing does not mean it is allowed on state testing.  Please consult your district testing coordinator before using any accommodations}.


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February Literacy Centers in a Pocket Chart

I have always loved having centers (stations) when I was teaching.  I enjoyed the students working in groups or with a partner to complete an activity.  The centers were always hands-on and theme related. One of the most useful components of any center was the pocket chart.  Pocket charts can and should be used by the students too.  They are not just for teachers.  Let's take a look at how I created some February activities for the pocket chart.

Phonics Station- This month is focused on Long Vowel Sounds.  Students sort the word cards by the long vowel sound.   They can also take the picture card and match it up to the word card.  Every station comes with an accountability piece.  I want students to do something in a group, partner or whole class but also have an independent piece.  An accountability piece is when students show you what they know.   Students will show you what they know by making their own Long Vowel Booklet.

Writing Center- If you purchased the January Pocket chart station, you know writing would have to be a part of this one too.  I love writing.  I love a writing station in the classroom.  Students select a picture card and write and illustrate their own personal story.  Words have been added to the picture cards for additional support.

Sequencing station:  Do you have ice cream sundaes for your Valentine Party?  Students sequence the picture cards and then sequence their own sundae.

Word Work Center- Students have the opportunity to spell their sight words with hearts.  So cute!  I suggest allow students to just choose 5 words.  They read it.  Build it.  Write it.  Black and white letters are also included to save ink.  You can easily print them on red, pink or white cardstock.

If you haven't purchased January yet, it's not too late to get it started.  

This packet is now one sale!  

You do not have to have an abundance of pocket charts in your classroom to make this work!  If you only have one pocket chart for your classroom, start by making one station per week.  Students rotate through the pocket chart station at different times of the week.  The next week simply use the next activity until you have completed all 4 activities.  

The floor, table or desk can be used if you do not have enough pocket charts.  
The possibilities are endless.  


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STAAR Math Student Engagement Game - Wrestle the STAAR Like a Pro

Are you ready to wrestle the STAAR like a Pro?  Wanna Wrestle the STAAR Like a Pro is a whole class student engagement game.  It is so much fun and guaranteed to get students engaged in the lesson.

 It is a great review for the dreaded MATH STAAR and a break from the everyday norm.  The class is divided into teams and will wrestle to solve the answer.  Not really physically wrestle...wrestle their math skills.

How to Play: Divide your class into four equal groups.  The students stand with their teammates and solve the math problem.  One person from the group is the speaker.  Once the group solves the problem, the speaker displays the answer.  If correct, that team gets one point.  If incorrect, no points are earned.

Team Names: Team Untouchables, Team Crusaders, Team Spartans, and Team Extreme

More about how to play: The question is displayed to the two teams who face-off to answer the question.  The team holds up the answer card.  The team who holds up the correct answer before the other team will win points.  No points are earned for incorrect answers.

There are 30 questions to solve.  The team with the most points wins!  This packet includes the new math TEKS and some financial literacy questions too.

Games have huge educational benefits.  Students are more engaged.  When students are more engaged in the lesson, more learning happens.  For example, while playing games, students develop a variety of connections with the content and positive memories of learning are developed.  Games grab students' attention and actively engage them.  Games are powerful and they should be used more often.  When used purposefully, games can have a significant effect on student achievement.

This game can be played in small group settings too:

Instead of playing as a whole group, play in small groups of 4.  This would be a great tutoring activity too.

                                             Download Wrestle the STAAR Like a Pro- Grade 4


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30 Interactive Engagement Activities

Keeping students engaged can be difficult.  It can be even more difficult to come up with unique and creative ways to keep the engagement going day after day.

I have shared these interactive engagement activity strips with you many, many months ago.  It never hurts to revisit them.

I laminated the engagement strips and placed them on a metal ring.  If you ever need a quick activity to spice up your lesson, just grab the 30 Interactive Engagement Activities on a ring.   All the activities are easy to use.   Hang them on your board or by your small group table for quick use.

The benefits:
If students are not paying attention and absorbed in the lesson, they will find some other things to be interested in.  We want students to be focused, eager and on task at all times.  But you know what?  That is so hard when the topic isn't so interesting.  Let's make those topics fun and engaging.  I have 30 ideas on a ring that will help your students be active participants in the lesson.  When students are engaged in the lesson and actively listening and actively learning, then students will be more apt to recall the information.  Students will store the information in their long term memory simply because they touched it, they experienced it and because they lived it.  

Other benefits:  Students with attention deficit disorders will be active.  This is just what they need.  They need to have opportunities to get up and move.  Students will look forward to your class and your activities.  We want students to enjoy school and enjoy learning.

Let's deliver the highest quality educational experience in the classroom.

Did you know this?  
Research shows that the average young adolescent's attention span is between 8 and 14 minutes.  Are you expecting your students to pay attention for 45-60 minutes without moving, talking and interacting?  It is possible they aren't retaining the information.

Let's create more active classrooms.

Download 30 Interactive Engagement Activities 


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Leadership Series eCourse {Interviews}

If you read my 2016 goals, you remember I mentioned starting a series of leadership topics in either video or e-course format.  After many hours of brainstorming with the hubs, I came up with our first course. 

Leadership Series 1:  Interviewing for a principal position

I have placed a section on my blog for you to locate all of the e-courses.  This is the only course that is available at this time.  I plan on having different topics for each month. Just click on the tab that says Principal Principles Series.  I also have links at the bottom of this page to take you directly to the website.

Interviewing for your first principal position can be scary.  We all get nervous when put on the spot.  Being prepared helps ease your nerves and helps you land your dream job.

January is the perfect time to begin prepping for a principal position.  Contracts are typically renewed in February.  You should begin to see positions appearing online in February.  This packet shares with you how to be prepared and what to expect. 

Let's take a look at what you will receive in this packet:

 You will receive over 50 interview questions.  Questions cover your philosophy of education, your mission, your entry plan, situational type questions, and climate/morale.  There is a space for you to take notes on each question card.

 Do you know what the roles and responsibilities consist of?  A principal's position covers many areas.  Are you knowledgeable about all the aspects of the position?

An e-Guide is included.  It gives you over 20 pages of resources.  For example, who to expect to be on the interview committee, questions your should not be asked, a look at my presentation, keywords to use in your resume and during your interview, what you should know about the district/campus you are interviewing with, what to bring with you to the interview and how to organize your files for online application submissions.

There are tons of pictures in the e-guide to help you.

Also available is your chance to join a Private Facebook Group.  It is not necessary but it is available if you want to ask questions to me or any of the other members.  Be the first to join this group!  

Ready to start the process of interviewing?  Take a look at the packet by clicking here.  The link will take you over to a website called GumRoad.  My e-courses will be located here.

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