dcsimg

Career Story: Principal At An Elementary School

Principal At An Elementary School

Job Title: Principal Of An Elementary School

Education: BA in Sociology, Swarthmore College •• MA in Education, UC Berkeley •• Masters in Education in School Leadership, Harvard University

Previous Experience: I was a teacher for ten years prior to becoming a principal. I was also a part-time literacy coach for the 3 years prior to becoming a principal.

Job Tasks: An elementary principal is the instructional leader of a school, as well as the day-to-day manager of the school.

It is very difficult to describe a typical day on the job because every day is so different. I tend to start my days at about 7:15 am, informally checking in with teachers, some of whom have been at school since 6:30 am. At 8:00 am, I head down to the lobby to greet the students who come to school early, and supervise them so they are not left alone. By 8:30, I head back to my office.

I try to spend at least an hour each day in classrooms. I visit classrooms to check up on students, and to see how their learning is going. If I see things that could be improved in the instruction, I try to find a way to talk to the teacher about it, or send an email. When I am not in classrooms, I am often having meetings. What might these meetings be about? It could be about finding a new photographer for school pictures, helping a family whose house burned down, or discussing how we can provide extra support for students as they get ready for the MCAS test.

Inevitably, in the midst of the things I have planned for the day, there are small emergency situations - a student who needs to visit the principal because of misbehavior, checking on the playground to see if kids can go outside for recess, and getting papers signed. Some days I have meetings with the other principals in the district. Because I am a new principal, I also have meetings with my mentor who helps me learn the ropes.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best parts of the job are when I feel like I am really making a difference for children, families and teachers. When I have a conversation with someone and they are able to see something in a new way, that makes the job worth it. I really like talking with teachers about how kids learn. I also love talking to kids about how they learn best. So anything that has to do with that is great.

The worst part of the job is that sometimes I feel like no matter what decision I make, people are not going to like it because I am the principal. They assume I have negative intentions, or that I don't understand. And this is merely because of the role that I hold, not anything I have actually done. Sometimes it also drives me crazy that I can't just have a good idea and go ahead and DO it. I have to get everyone to see what a great idea it is so that they will want to do it.

Job Tips:
1. It is very important to spend a significant amount of time teaching first. I think it is impossible for a principal to be an instructional leader if he or she has not been a teacher of an academic subject.

2. Take your time getting to know the community; show them that you are really there to listen, before you start making any changes.

3. If you think you want to do this job, you should go for it, because a lot of people don't, so there aren't always a lot of great candidates for the jobs that are available.

Additional Thoughts: I am in my first year, and I am still not always sure that I want to do this job - and many people have told me that that is ok, so I will pass along that advice as well.

Popular Schools offering Education Administration Programs

quickinfoThese schools offer particularly quick info upon request, and we have written detailed profiles for each (click school names to see the profiles).

Request info from multiple schools, by clicking the Request Info links.

Matching School Ads

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

  • Programs: International Education - Doctor of Philosophy in Education, Leadership in Higher Education - Master of Education, EdD - Learning Analytics in Higher Education, more...
  • Degrees: Doctorate, Master

Technology changes everything®

You’ve found Ashford University, where school comes to you

  • Programs: MA/Education - Family and Community Services, BA/Early Childhood Education Administration - Infant and Toddler Care, BA/Early Childhood Education Administration, more...
  • Degrees: Master, Bachelor

Concordia University - Portland offers several fully online 14-month Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs and a fully online Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) program.

  • Programs: Educational Administration (EDD), M.Ed: Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership, Master Degree in Educational Leadership, more...
  • Degrees: Doctorate, Master

Study online with California University of Pennsylvania.

  • Programs: Superintendent Letter of Eligibility (Certification) - Online, Administrative Program for Principals (Certification) - Online, Administrative Program for Principals (Master of Education) - Online, more...
  • Degrees: Certificate, Master

Liberty University provides a world-class education with a solid Christian foundation, equipping men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for success in every aspect of life.

  • Programs: MA in Education - Administration and Supervision, Educational Specialist - Educational Leadership , M.Ed. Teaching & Learning: History, more...
  • Degrees: Master, Doctorate, Associate, Certificate

For over 35 years, Keiser University has maintained a practical, hands-on approach to career education to help our students achieve their personal and professional goals. 

  • Programs: Education Specialist in Educational Leadership, PhD in Educational Leadership
  • Degrees: Certificate, Doctorate

NU has been educating leaders since 1934 at our campus near Seattle. If you have a dream, we can help make it possible.

  • Programs: Master's in Education, Certificate in Ministry Leadership, Associate in Ministry Leadership, more...
  • Degrees: Master, Certificate, Associate
Matching School Ads
You are visiting:

Find a school near you

What are Career Stories?

Career Stories are concise, real-world career overviews written by people relating their personal career experiences and wisdom. They provide invaluable insights and mentoring advice to students and career changers.

Most stories include:

  • a typical day or project
  • tips and advice
  • best and worst parts
  • educational background
  • previous experience

Browse hundreds of Career Stories

More Details On This Career

Please also see our detailed information about Elementary And Secondary School Administrators, including:

SPEAK TO AN ADVISOR 1.844.285.6104