5 Common Mistakes New Assistant Principals Make

We have talked about this list of common mistakes previously on our YouTube channel, but we know there are some people in The New School Leader community that are not hanging out in the YouTube space. We wanted to share it here as well, so we could make sure everyone has an opportunity to avoid these common mistakes that new assistant principals make.

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Now let’s jump right into it.

Mistake number 1 – Not asking questions

Far too often, new assistant principals fail to ask questions when they need to. It’s okay to ask for help. We do not have to know everything the moment that we take our first administrative job. Push your ego out of the way, and ask for help! Also, we need to know the due dates for the assignments we’ve been given. When do we need to have this task completed? How often do we need to check in with our principal on those assignments? Do they need to be constantly informed, or are they comfortable with turning it over to us until the task is finalized? We have to get to know our leaders, and one of the best ways to do that is by asking questions.

Mistake number 2 – Not taking time to reflect

We’ve talked before about the importance of reflection. Reflecting is one of the most important things we can do for our professional growth. It helps us learn at a faster pace, and it helps us better understand how we work. When is the best time for us to check emails? What is the best time for us to get into classrooms? Is there a better time to work on different tasks throughout the day? What is working for me in this role? What isn’t? Reflection will help us figure those things out more quickly, so build in time to do it regularly.

Mistake number 3 – Not planning ahead

What are the “big rocks” that you will have to plan for this year? Get those testing dates on your calendar. Create an evaluation plan, and get all of your observations on your calendar early. Stick to that plan. If you make it to spring break without having the bulk of your evaluations completed, you’re going to have a hard time getting things wrapped up in the busyness of the spring.

Mistake number 4 – Staying in the office too much

Get out of your office. We’ll say it a little louder for the people in the back. GET OUT OF YOUR OFFICE. It is way too easy to get caught up in the busyness of the assistant principal position. Paperwork can be done anytime. Students and teachers are only in the building for a finite number of hours. Serve the customers while the customers are in the building. Do the other stuff when they are not around. You cannot be an instructional leader if you do not know what is happening in classrooms or in collaborative team meetings. Get out of your office.

Mistake number 5 – Not taking care of yourself

We are not the poster boys for self-care, but we are working on ourselves. You should too. Do not neglect your physical, emotional, or spiritual health. Find time to get some workouts in throughout the week. Find time to read. Professional reading is important, but make some time for fiction if that’s your thing. Enjoy yourself. Separate yourself from work when you get home. Emails do not have to be answered at night. If there’s an emergency, your leadership will call you. You can burn the candle at both ends for a while, but eventually, you will burn out. Take care of yourself. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

That’s it. Hopefully, this will help you avoid some of the common mistakes new assistant principals make. If you are interested in receiving regular email updates about strategies and resources for new and aspiring school leaders, you might be interested in our free newsletter. It launches in June, and you can subscribe by filling out the form below.

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