Left, Principal Michael C. Brown talks on a radio at Winters Mill High School in Westminster, Md., on May 17, 2022. Right, Boone Elementary School principal Manuela Haberer directs students and parents in the pick-up line at the conclusion of the school day on May 19, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas.
School & District Management

Hour by Busy Hour: What a Principal’s Day Actually Looks Like

By Denisa R. Superville, Jaclyn Borowski & Hyon-Young Kim — June 20, 2022 2 min read
School & District Management

Hour by Busy Hour: What a Principal’s Day Actually Looks Like

By Denisa R. Superville, Jaclyn Borowski & Hyon-Young Kim — June 20, 2022 2 min read
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Even with the most carefully planned schedules, principals know that once the day starts, they can be pulled in any direction.

They must be nimble, ready to tackle the unexpected as it pops up but also still smart about ensuring that their time is focused on the aspects of school leadership that matter the most, according to research: instruction, people, and management.

With the 2021-22 academic year coming to a close, Education Week asked two school leaders, Michael C. Brown, the principal of Winters Mill High School in Westminster, Md., and Manuela Haberer, principal of Boone Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas, to detail the expected and unexpected events that unfolded during a day in their lives at this moment in history.

“We never know when our schedule will be completely followed to a T or we should have just shredded it,” Haberer said. “Personally, I live by the belief that the better I can schedule the predictable and proactively plan—staying ahead of events and deadlines— the better … I can handle the other things that land on our lap surprisingly, on a daily basis.”

The daily swirl can make it a challenge to “make your rounds into the classrooms and really immerse yourself in instruction and see what’s going on,” said Brown said. “ I just love interacting with the students and the teachers, in their element, ... finding out what they are learning, what they are getting into.”

Here’s an hour-to-hour log of how this pair of principals spent a busy working day, along with audio clips from each.

I'm hitting the ground running; I'm grabbing my walkie-talkie...
Principal Michael C. Brown, left, talks with athletic director Jen Gosselin at Winters Mill High School in Westminster, Md., Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

Michael C. Brown is in his 4th year as the principal of the 1,100-student Winters Mill High School in the Carroll County school district in Westminster, Md. He also serves as the president-elect of the Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals. Listen to a recording of him describing a typical day.

We never know when our schedule will be completely followed to a T, or we should have just shredded it.
Manuela Haberer, principal of Boone Elementary School, visits with kindergartners Amalia Cavazos, 6, and William Dyas, 6, during the Pennies for Literacy event in the school library in San Antonio, Texas on Thursday, May 19, 2022.

Manuela Haberer is the principal of Boone Elementary School in the Northside Independent school district in San Antonio, Texas. Amid staffing challenges, big changes in state education laws, and end-of-year celebrations and routines, Haberer recorded a day in her life as a school leader in the 476-student school. Listen to a recording of her describing a typical day.

At a Glance: A Principal’s Daily Schedule

Take a look at how two school principals manage and allocate their time, hour to hour, over the course of a busy school day, from early morning prep to late-night follow-up and planning.

📢 Principals, does this schedule look like yours? Share what your typical school day looks like on Twitter using the hashtag #MyK12Schedule.

Use the tabs below to see each principal’s schedule. As you scroll down, hover/click on the X icons to see exactly how they are spending their time.

Read Next

Principal Michael C. Brown, from left, talks to seniors Brady D’Anthony, 18, and Sydney Dryden, 17, at Winters Mill High School in Westminster, Md., Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Principal Michael C. Brown, from left, talks to seniors Brady D’Anthony, 18, and Sydney Dryden, 17, at Winters Mill High School in Westminster, Md., Tuesday, May 17, 2022.
Steve Ruark for Education Week
School & District Management Photos What School Leadership Looks Like: A Day in the Life of a Principal
A look at a typical day for one elementary school principal in Texas and a high school principal in Maryland.
Jaclyn Borowski , June 20, 2022
1 min read

Photo credits: Steve Ruark and Lisa Krantz for Education Week

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