In our recent survey of principals and assistant principals, we asked two open-ended questions.
- What do you find most rewarding about being a principal or assistant principal?
- What is the biggest challenge you face as a principal or assistant principal?
225 of the 283 survey respondents provided comments. Last week, I read through all these comments and attempted to categorize and summarize the results. Reading the heartfelt words was at once compelling (rewards) and daunting (challenges). Here’s what was trending, beginning with challenges and ending on a positive note:
No surprise that many principals are feeling overwhelmed, as can be seen in the following list:
Demands of the Role
Increasing Needs of Students
- Time – not enough or time management (39)
- (Unrealistic) Expectations (27)
- Management/Paperwork (15)
- Work/Life Balance (8)
- Isolation (4)
Insufficient Resources, Staffing or Budget
- Social-Emotional/Mental Health Needs (18)
- Behavior (12)
- Needs – Unspecified (8)
- Poverty/SES (5)
- ELL (2)
- Difficult/Adversarial Individuals (13)
- Resistance to Change (9)
- Union/Contract (7)
- Teacher Stress (5)
- Lack of Support from Central Office (16)
- Meeting time away from the building (6)
State Mandates & Accountability System (20)
Difficult Parents (19)
Leadership Challenges (11) (Leading change, Creating culture)
On a more hopeful note, principals clearly find their work rewarding with some writing eloquently about why they love the work.
Principals made clear that
Relationships kept them going, particularly being able to connect and work with people over time [Students (84), Staff (40), Families (35)].
Principals find satisfaction in seeing
Student Growth/Progress (43) and
Making a Difference in the lives of students in need (14).
Principals also find it rewarding to work with
Faculty by promoting
Teacher Growth/Change (24),
Supporting Teachers to provide what’s best for students
Coaching & Mentoring (13), and
Several principals wrote about finding satisfaction from being able to
Impact or Influence a School’s Culture/Environment (29) and
Lead Change (16).
Some principals love the
Ever Changing Challenges & Problem Solving (8).
STAYING HOPEFUL & INSPIRED
The first question in last week’s Twitter chat with principal Todd Nesloney (co-founder with Adam Welcome of
Kids Deserve It!
) asked how one battles negativity. It was amazing to see how quickly principals produced answers in 10 minutes, including strategies, attitudes and inspirational quotes. (My favorite: “
Negative people need drama like oxygen. Stay positive and take their breath away.
”). For more, go to:
#MESPAchat February Transcript
In reflecting on the rewards and challenges of the job, I am reminded of the old Peace Corps slogan: “The toughest job you’ll ever love.” I hope that you are able to stay positive and find satisfaction from doing what Howard Gardner defines as
. Seek inspiration from the work of people like Todd and Adam. And be sure to build your network, whether through Twitter, Voxer, support groups, EdCamp, or conferences. You need to find ways to connect with others who do and understand this complex work. Principals supporting principals – and principals inspiring principals!
Thank you for participating in this year’s survey.
COMPLETE SURVEY RESULTS
Results (including salary information) can be found at this link:
. The link brings you to the beginning of the survey. Use the drop down menu at the top to move among the different sections of the survey.