Knowing When to Stay or Leave [Principals]

Jun 28, 2016

by Bob Thompson

Knowing when to stay a little longer and when to leave is often difficult, especially if our logic and our emotions are in conflict. The following set of questions is intended to give guidance to principals as they assess their tenure in a position and the pros and cons of staying or moving. Please note, however, that there are no generic “right” answers. The “rightness” of the answers varies from principal to principal.

  1. Have I accomplished what I came to do and most of the other important things I can do?
  2. Have I been here long enough for the improvements/changes I made to become ingrained in the thinking of the school so they will not come “unraveled” after I leave? Otherwise, all of my work may have been for naught. (Research indicates it takes 5-7 years for a program or strategy to become ingrained in the culture of a campus.)
  3. Is my present position tenable? Are there aspects to my job that make it difficult for me to be successful (e.g. an ineffective employee that I have no power to move, I am not allowed to pick and/or reassign my staff, meddling and/or micromanaging by others, etc.).
  4. What are the family and personal issues to be considered?
    • Is my present salary sufficient for my future needs? If not, how likely is it to increase to meet those needs?
    • Is this a good “window” of time to move and not adversely affect my children’s education?
    • How will a move at this time affect my spouse’s career?
    • What is the status of the health of my family (e.g. do we need to be close to a particular doctor or health facility).
    • What about the health of our parents and the necessity to be within a certain distance of where they are?
    • Other?
  5. What is the superintendent and/or board’s attitude toward my staying?
    • If the attitude is positive then this issue is neutral, (i.e. it is neither a reason to stay or leave).
    • If the attitude is negative, is it likely it will improve?
  6. How likely is it that my present job will continue to provide me with adequate opportunities for personal and/or professional growth?
  7. How important is continued personal and/or professional growth to me and/or my career?
  8. Do I have another job offer that will meet my salary and other family and professional needs?