Special Report

Principals Under Pressure

Strategies for Mastering the Toughest Job in Schools
October 17, 2018
BRIC ARCHIVE
Is there a job in K-12 education more demanding and complex than the principal’s? We’d argue there’s not. Principals have to answer to the central office. They need to be responsive to parents. They must make teachers their top priority—to be instructional leaders. And of course, they must build relationships with students. How is doing all those things successfully even possible when principals must also grapple with some of the most vexing challenges in our broader culture that spill over into schools every day? For this report, we asked principals to tell us about their biggest challenges on the job and six issues came up, over and over: Safety, student mental health, dealing with toxic employees, handling the complex needs of special education students and their families, holding on to the best teachers, and time management and work-life balance. Their candid responses directly shaped the stories our journalists reported and inspired us to find solutions by seeking out principals actively working to address these issues and turned to many other experts who offer tested, attainable strategies.
Mojdeh Henderson, the principal of Berewick Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C., relies on a team of “first responders” in her school who can handle matters such as student discipline and building issues. That setup allows Henderson to spend the bulk of her time doing things such as classroom observations that help teachers get better at instruction.
Mojdeh Henderson, the principal of Berewick Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C., relies on a team of “first responders” in her school who can handle matters such as student discipline and building issues. That setup allows Henderson to spend the bulk of her time doing things such as classroom observations that help teachers get better at instruction.
Chris Keane for Education Week
School & District Management 6 Tips for Principals to Survive—and Thrive
Lesli A. Maxwell, October 18, 2018
4 min read
Mojdeh Henderson, the principal at Berewick Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C., sticks to a time-management plan that ensures she spends about 80 percent of her time in classrooms.
Mojdeh Henderson, the principal at Berewick Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C., sticks to a time-management plan that ensures she spends about 80 percent of her time in classrooms.
Chris Keane for Education Week
Jayda Pugliese, the principal of St. Mary Interparochial School in Philadelphia, assists a student. The first-year principal of the K-8 school teaches in each grade level for one period a week to show support for her teachers.
Jayda Pugliese, the principal of St. Mary Interparochial School in Philadelphia, assists a student. The first-year principal of the K-8 school teaches in each grade level for one period a week to show support for her teachers.
Photos by Sarah Bones for Education Week
First grade teacher Bella Legault bends down to greet a nervous incoming student at Foundation Preparatory School in New Orleans on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.
First grade teacher Bella Legault bends down to greet a nervous incoming student at Foundation Preparatory School in New Orleans on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.
Chris Granger/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP
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