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Career Story: Elementary School Principal In The Suburbs

Elementary School Principal In The Suburbs

Job Title: School Principal

Type of Company: I work for a school district in a suburb of Boston.

Education: BA, Elementary Education, Boston College •• MA, Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology, Boston College

Previous Experience: I began my career as an elementary school teacher in grade six. I also taught grade five and served as an assistant principal at two elementary schools.

Job Tasks: I am responsible for overseeing and leading a school to provide the best education for all of the students enrolled. This is an awesome responsibility and requires getting several groups of people to wok cooperatively, including the students, parents and staff. This may sound like an easy task but is sometimes difficult since although everyone has the same goal many shareholders may differ on how to achieve this objective.

Before students can be taught effectively, however, a safe and nurturing environment has to be created. I begin my day greeting students as they arrive at school either on buses or in cars. It is important that safe procedures have been established, proper supervision is available and schedules have been developed. It is a wonderful way to begin a work day as the children are happy and eager to come into school. No matter what happened on the previous day, today is new day. Once routines are completed, I have a chance to visit classrooms to supervise teachers and get a sense of what is happening in the school.

Typical tasks would be settling a dispute between students that occurred on a bus, coaxing a reluctant student to come into the building, conversing with a parent who has an issue with a teacher or another student, discussing or sharing some information with a teacher, or just being available for questions and creating a welcoming atmosphere. I have many opportunities to interact with students and staff throughout the day. Students are excited to share with me a special project or to show me a new skill that they have learned. Teachers often have a question or need help solving a problem. For some students learning is more challenging. Sometimes this is due to a specific learning problem. With specialists such as reading teachers, special education teachers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, counselors, behaviorists and speech teachers I assist in developing a plan of action for the student. To achieve this goal, tests are administered, the student is observed and data is examined. Since there are so many people working together a good portion of my day is spent communicating by phone, email, or in individual and group meetings. Since I am interacting with parents and young children no two days are ever the same.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is that you get to interact with several groups of people, especially young children. As the principal you also get to make many decisions, define where to focus your time and know that the decisions that you make have a large impact on many people.

The worst part of the job is that some problems that have to be solved are not problems of your own making and do not have easy solutions. Nor does there seem to be enough time to do all that needs to be done to be successful.

Job Tips:
1.) In addition to courses in special education, curriculum, statistics, I would suggest taking courses in writing, speaking, and legal issues since these are skills which you use every day.

2.) Early in your career join committees and become involved in extracurricular activities at your school.

3.)Take workshops/courses while working to remain up to date with current trends.

Additional Thoughts: It is very important to be patient and be a good communicator. Some times there is drama and emotion around a certain issue so you must be able to diffuse a situation and be a good listener. Once this is achieved, you may begin to offer solutions to a problem.

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