Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes: Steps For Dealing with a New Principal

Next year I begin my 13th year as a teacher. I’m not superstitious, but it is ironic that I get to face my fourth principal next year. I know as a journalism and technology teacher I have been lucky to have principals who saw value in and supported my program.

So, how do you deal with a new principal? One that you don’t know or have any idea what their concept for scholastic journalism might be.

1) Be open and honest. Talk to them as soon as possible. You need to make sure that you are as open to them about your goals for the program and your needs.

2) Ask them about their vision for the school and your program. Be honestly interested. Remember you are a reporter too. Think of it as an interview.

3) Show them how you can be a part of their vision. Journalism is a great subject because we do it all! We teach literacy, language arts, writing, math (design, photoshop skills, rule of thirds), science (optics, depth of field, color theory), social studies (1st amendment, world and American history, government). We also teach art, design, creative thinking. We teach business skills, computer skills, personal skills and leadership. So no matter what he/she is looking to improve in a school we do it.

4) Show off. Bring you best stuff. Show ’em what you can do and how you can make him/her look good to the public, the superintendent and the board.

5) Have a plan. Tell them where you want to improve your program and what it will mean to the school. How it will help your students and others not even in your program.

6) List and voice your concerns. Journalism more than any other program runs on the good will of the principal. You need financial and moral support. Let them know what you need and expect.

7) Talk about the money. Journalism is getting more expensive every day. If it is bled dry it will die. Explain it to them – they won’t know. Tell them why you need every penny. And be frugal, not extravagant. Don’t ask for the newest pro editing suite if all you need is a better version of the current software you already own. Let them know you are reasonable and responsible when it comes to money.

Finally, if at all possible try to get them on your side. It won’t hurt to have them as an ally. At least try not to make an enemy on the first day.

Mr. C

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