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...
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 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.
Photo credits: Steve Ruark and Lisa Krantz for Education Week
Coverage of principals and school leadership is supported in part by a grant from the Joyce Foundation, at www.joycefdn.org/programs/education-economic. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.