The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

A First Year Principal’s Pledge

Later today, I will be sending our staff “welcome back to school” letter. In addition, I’ll be including my pledge to all of them, found below.

A First Year Principal’s Pledge

John Bernia

I will put students first.

As a school, we are a service business. I’ll always remember why I chose education, to be part of a cause bigger than myself and to have a positive impact on our future. Creating opportunities for kids has been and will continue to be my top priority.

I will be visible.

I will be in hallways, classrooms, and at events as much as my schedule allows. I will make it a point to get to know staff, students, and parents and to be accessible to them. While my work does require me to be out of the building at one point or another, I will make the most of the time I am at school.

I will engage our community.

Parents are vital partners to our work. I will do my part to build relationships with our families through our PTO and other community partnerships.

I will listen.

This summer, I have conducted a “listening tour” with a goal of meeting every member of our staff before the first day of school. Those conversations have helped to shape this list, as well as our administrative goals for the year. I will make time to keep these conversations going once the school year begins.

I will be direct.

I will articulate my views or values so that everyone knows my perspective. I will communicate regularly so people will know who I am and what I am about.

I will empower.

To be a leader, you must build the leadership capacity of others. I will work with every member of the staff (certified and non-certified) to push beyond their comfort zone to further their own development. I will trust staff members to be professionals, and will not hesitate to praise good work.

I will make tough decisions.

Our budget has seen major reductions and we’ve lost other significant resources. I realize that some hard calls will need to be made and pledge to make my decisions about how our resources will be made based on what will help the most students. I will be open about my thought process and willing to share why I make the choices I will make. I will also have difficult conversations with students, staff, and parents when necessary.

I will represent and advocate for our school in my actions, appearance, and words.

I will take my role seriously and do my best to enhance the reputation of our school community. Public education is under attack, I will do my part to emphasize that our work is a profession, not a job.

My vision will extend beyond standardized tests.

As a school, we must meet state requirements and comply with legislative mandates. While I will take this seriously as a leader and as a professional, I will remember that our goal is learning and growth for all of our students, and that many of the important lessons we teach are “not on the test.”

I will be accountable.

I’m a new principal. While I commit to make tough decisions, listen, and to be direct, I also realize that I will make mistakes. When this happens, I will take responsibility and improve. I will not ask anyone to do anything I am not willing to do myself, including coming out of my comfort zone to learn and grow.

 

 

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13 thoughts on “A First Year Principal’s Pledge

  1. A good plan ! I wish I had thought of this kind of thing in my first year as a principal, so kudos to you for mapping this out for yourself.

    I think this pledge will help you and your staff as they get a snapshot of where you are coming from. You could use the headings/themes and make an activity from this and use with your staff – sort of a commitment/mission guiding activity as well.

    Just a thought. Have a great year and keep in touch.

    Dave

    • HI Dave,

      Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate the time you took to respond. I sent this out to our staff earlier today and was really pleased at many of the responses I have received. It is my hope we can use this as a springboard to some meaningful conversation when teachers return. I also hope this pushes some to take a minute and reflect on their own “pledge” for this year.

      I’ll be keeping it front and center, posted near my computer, where I can keep myself accountable.

      It is my sincere hope you have a great year as well!
      John

  2. Jennifer on said:

    You have a great vision for the year! One thing my principal does is “Second Cup of Coffee” where one Friday a month she provides coffee and donuts for a 45 minute chat with the principal about whatever they’d like to chat about. Only norms are: no agenda, limited blackberry usage, and enjoy a second cup of coffee. It was a great way to invite parents in to the building in a limited way. This way she could stay abreast of concerns, questions, etc. It was also an event that worked well to invite new families to in a way she could personally welcome them to school and see how their year was going.

    Wish you, and your entire staff, a successful year!
    Jennifer

    • Hi Jennifer,

      Thanks for your comment, I appreciate the time you took to provide some feedback.

      Put simply, I love your idea! I think this is something that I can try to do, perhaps scheduling it after our elementary school start times so parents can come by after they drop off their younger children. I can also see this as a great tool to use with staff, maybe two times in a week, once a month for the early crowd and those that work later.

      Thanks for your kind words, I hope you have an outstanding school year!
      John

  3. Great idea! This is an excellent way of making it clear to your staff where your loyalties lie. As a teacher, I often had to guess what was important to administration. I had to be careful how I phrased my questions or concerns, unsure if admin was on the same page. Having a pledge like this eliminates the mystery. Off to make my own pledge now. Thanks!

    • Sam,

      Thanks for the kind words – your list was very inspirational! It’s my hope people take a moment to click the icon next to your comment to read your list.

      Hope your year goes well,
      John

  4. This is good. I am new to the twitter and PLN concept, thanks for sharing and collaborating. I may just have to use this idea as well. I am in my 2nd year as building principal and the first year was rough! Good luck this year and I look forward to hearing all about it through the PLN!

    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for the feedback, I’m hopeful that you generated your own list that will drive your second year – let’s keep in touch, I’m hopeful you’ll say the second time around is much easier!

      Thanks,
      John

  5. Tim Fulcher on said:

    John, I am impressed with your level of commitment to making Oakview an incredible learning environment. Kudos to you for meeting with your staff and then creating your modus operandi based on who you are, where you want to take your school, and feedback from your staff. You are a fabulous leader and I have enjoyed learning with you these past two years. Looking forward to hearing more about your experience this year!

    • Hi Tim,

      Thanks for the kind words. While I am grateful for them, I’m even more appreciative of your friendship. I hope you and your team have an outstanding school year!

      John

  6. Pingback: A First Year Principal’s Pledge – John Bernia | ProjectPLN

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  8. Pingback: Principal’s principles | From the Chair: Music@Webster

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