My wife tells me all the time that I should write a leadership book on being a great assistant principal. If I ever do, I will title the book, “Everyone Needs a Great Number 2.” During my teaching and administration career, I have been an assistant director to band programs and an assistant principal to schools. I really enjoy the roll of the assistant. Being an assistant allows the opportunities and experiences to grow professional and personally while working under a head director. I believe that possessing these three attributes will help sustain and maintain a successful school system. These attributes are to be a self-starter, to be the go to person, and to be supportive.
Being a self-starter is very important when serving as an assistant principal. There are times where a particular issue or idea develops outside an original project. The project director, or in my case, the principal, may not see the issue or idea. In that case, a good assistant principal must take the initiative to address it. For example, I developed a reward and incentive program for our remedial reading and math laboratories. Our student output was not meeting our expectations. Our students needed some extrinsic motivation to participate and fully engage in the program. I rewarded students with ice cream passes and jean passes for their weekly achievement. To encourage the teachers, I created a bar chart bulletin board to visually acknowledge the teachers’ class for their good work. My principal really enjoyed seeing me take initiative in this project not only because it complemented his school improvement plan, but it showed him, the teachers, and the students that I cared about what they were doing in the computer lab.
Sport analyst will tell you that a team is only as good as its weakest link. Basketball coaches do not build their team around five players. They need to build some additional help. They need some strong, talented, and capable players to substitute for the starting lineup. This analogy is true in the work force. The assistant principal has to be able to sub in the place of the principal. In drama, the saying is “the show must go on!” That is the case for schools. When the head principal is out, teachers, students, and parents look to the understudy, the assistant principal, to take the lead role. The assistant principal has to be willing and able to step up, make decisions, and handle the day-to-day affairs of the school.
The final attribute to being a good assistant principal is to be supportive. This attribute is my favorite because I love to add value to someone. Everyone wants to be valued and see that they matter. I get enjoyment from praising my wife and son for all they do for me as well as my teachers and students at school. I read a book entitled the “Five Love Languages.” The book said that people need to have regular “deposits” into the emotional account. The four of the five deposits are kind words, gifts, acts of service, and quality time. I believe that it is so important for the assistant principal to know his or her staff and students. He or she needs to recognize what language that particular teacher or student needs to continue filling their “add value account.”
Finding a great number two is a challenging task in a school system. They need to be a self-starter, to the go to person, and be supportive of the faculty, staff, and students. These attributes have helped me develop my craft. One day, I aspire to be a head principal then an assistant superintendent then a superintendent. But I will always keep with me these three attributes to maintain and sustain a successful school system.