As we get ready to welcome students back to school, it seems like there is never enough time to get everything done. When I’m running around nonstop, sometimes it helps to have a quick checklist to help guide me through the day. Here are some of the key things I always try to remember as I strive to be the best principal I can be:


  1. Great principals recognize the value of every person in the building, and they praise their staff members as often as possible.
  2. Great principals support their teachers at every turn—whether they are facing challenges with students, parents, or colleagues. They trust their teachers, have their backs, and always try to give them the benefit of the doubt.
  3. Great principals don’t spend much time in their offices. They are in the halls, in the classroom, at the bus stop, at the carpool, in the lunchroom, or wherever the action is. They engagewith those around them.
  4. Great principals do not try to do it alone. They involve others in the decision-making process whenever possible.
  5. Great principals pay attention to student achievement, and they spend a lot of time in classrooms. They promote strategic instruction and meaningful assessments. And, they ensure that data from those assessments inform teachers’ practice as they work to meet the academic needs of their students.
  6. Great principals intentionally foster a culture of collaboration in their school. They recognize that their teachers are stronger when they work together, so they create the conditions in the building that facilitate this process.
  7. Great principals are never content with the status quo. They have high expectations for themselves and everyone around them, articulating a bold visionfor their school and inspiring others to strive for more.
  8. Great principals understand the importance of staff morale and are intentional about creating good working conditions for their faculty.
  9. Great principals bring positive energy to work every day. They realize that positivity is a nonnegotiable quality when creating a school culture where students enjoy learning and adults enjoy working.
  10. Great principals always make it about the kids. They work to build relationships with their students, and they ensure that the best interest of students drives every decision in the school.

As you get ready for a new school year, make it a habit to check this list at least once a day and ask yourself, “Which of these 10 tips will I make a priority today?

Danny Steele serves as the principal of Thompson Sixth Grade Center in Alabaster, AL, where his passion is building a school culture that values connections with kids, fosters collaboration among teachers, and focuses on raising student achievement. In 2005 Steele was recognized as Alabama’s Assistant Principal of the Year, and in 2016 he was named Alabama’s Secondary Principal of the Year. He is currently writing a book with Todd Whitaker. Follow him on Twitter @SteeleThoughts and check out his blog Steele Thoughts.

1 Comment

  • A. W. says:

    I think that we oftentimes think very much about the best interest of the students while ignoring what might be in the best interest of the teachers. Teacher well-being matters!

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