Having a Strategic Presence

If you do this job for any amount of time, like a day and a half, you realize that there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. Teacher observations, unscheduled meetings with parents, endless district level meetings and requirements. If you had an additional six hours each day you still would leave the office with a hefty to do list still to get to. Oe of the biggest things that is constantly on my mind each and every day is making sure that I am visible through out the day. But with so many different responsibilities, how can you make sure that you do not get stuck behind your desk all day?

One of the things that I have tried to do is make sure that I am strategically present. I do this in a variety of ways and have learned a few tricks along the way. Don;t get me wrong. I make every attempt (as we all do) to be out and about the majority of my day. Some days this is easier than others. These are things I do on those days where time is at a premium. What do I mean by “strategically present”?  It means I try and get the most bang for my buck during those days when there is so much on my plate I can’t see the edges.

One thing I do is to get to as many events as I can, even if I don’t stay for the entire event. Sometimes being at the front door greeting parents as they come into the auditorium for a concert makes a huge impression, even if I have to be somewhere else that night.

This year I changed my morning routine. For three years I spent every morning out on the bus loop greeting students. This year I split my time between the bus loop and the student drop off area. By spending time at this location, parents see me greeting each student as they get out of the car. I greet every student with a “good morning” and a “how are you today?”. Being out there makes an impression with parents and doesn’t take a large amount of time.

Visibility join the hallways is so important for a principal. I try and maximize my time outside the office every day. I try and follow the bell schedule just like my kids do. When I hear the bell, i grab my walkie talkie and head to the halls. I vary the hallways each time, making sure I visit 6th, 7th, 8th, the elective hallways and the gym.

My assistant principals handle the supervision of t he cafeteria during lunches. However, I make it a point to visit the cafeteria during each lunch. I talk to the kids and touch base with the AP’s. It takes only a few minutes, but it increases my visibility and it foes not take an inordinate amount of time.

Remember that these are things I do on days when I have a limited amount of time at my disposal. How do you make sure you are visible during the school day?

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About drellena

Principal of Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County, Virginia. President of the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals.
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