Guidelines for Working Effectively With The Assistant Principal [Principals]
by Bob Thompson
What are the questions I must answer in preparation for working with my new assistant principal?
- What is his/her role, e.g.
- Trainee for a full-time assistant or building principal position?
- Assist me with my workload, i.e. do jobs I don’t have time to do?
- Complement my leadership style?
- Based on his/her role, what will be the job responsibilities?
- What is my plan for training/orienting this person?
- What is my plan for making the transition easier when this assistant leaves and a new one takes his/her place?
- How can I best “showcase” this assistant so he/she will catch the eye of the superintendent to be considered for career advancement?
* If the principal (or your secretary) has a “lock” on his/her job and/or has political connections to the superintendent, board, or other power sources, you may want to pass up this job and wait for a principalship where you have more control over hiring and firing of critical personnel.
Steps for beginning work with a new assistant principal.
- Identify his/her role and job description (see a and b above).
- When interviewing this person for the first time, ascertain the cost (my time, his/her time, and expense) of the staff development process for bringing this person “up to speed”. Can I afford this cost?
- Determine how well he/she “fits” my style, fits the culture of the community, and fits the culture I want to create in the building?
(Note: If the person is good at what he/she does but the “fit” is poor, don’t hire him/her. If he/she is already on the job before you get there and has a “lock” on the job, determine whether you can live with the turmoil this lack of fit will create.)
- Develop a performance-based system for evaluating the assistant principal.
- Assess his/her skills and your own skills in relation to administrative needs of the building, and determine the best distribution of duties.
- Assign duties to the assistant principal and teach him/her the best strategies for accomplishing the job.
- When you lay out the job responsibilities and when you evaluate the assistant principal’s performance, be absolutely clear (both orally and in writing) about what you expect, and accept no less.
- Cross-train the assistant principal on your job and the jobs of other assistant principals so you will be prepared for emergencies and natural transitions when people leave.