Like bad credit card debt a Principal can find themselves paying interest on past mistakes. This can take many forms. Teachers will show up late for meetings, have blatant side conversations, and refuse to work outside of anything explicit in their contract. You can also find yourself paying with an increase in student referrals and calls routed to you that normally weren’t. To get out of this hole, like fixing your credit score, you gotta start with the basics.
Look in the Mirror
You first have to acknowledge that you messed up. Reflect on what may have caused the problem in the first place and own it. At your next staff meeting admit that you’ve noticed some changes and let your staff talk. Listen to their concerns. You might find out that something that you thought was innocuous was actually a major problem that went against an unwritten norm that you didn’t know about. In that case take responsibility and let them know that their hurt feelings was not the intent of the decision that you made.
Devour the low hanging fruit
If you find out that you made a sequence of small mistakes address those first. Maybe you come in and you have so many things on your mind that you consistently forget to acknowledge your office staff. Perhaps your forgot to follow through on sending out a weekly email. Take care of those simple errors first. Smile and say hello and schedule important emails in your calendar. This will help to compound your momentum as you begin to address larger concerns.
Learn from your mistakes and only make them once. This is simple advice that’s not easy to follow. Most of us make mistakes because of the habits we have. We make decisions based on the well worn neural pathways that we’ve built and that have helped us in the past. Those same perceptions may be causing us issues in a new situation. Learn new skills and new ways of working with people and through situations. In some cases it may help to have a mentor with a bird’s eye view. She could help you uncover your blind spots.
Whatever the case, don’t let your mistakes compound. Don’t point the finger and blame the staff for their behaviors. As the Principal, you’ve got to dig yourself out of the hole you’ve created and start accruing good will. If you do that you will eventually have the capital you need to make the changes you want.
I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......