Seven Things To Do After Getting The Assistant Principal Job

You did it! You got your first assistant principal job!

Now what?

The assistant principal job can be tough, especially in the first year or so. However, here are 7 things I learned as a new assistant principal that will help you thrive in your first year.

Find a passion project on your campus that you can pour yourself into

There are going to be a lot of things that you do not know how to do. That’s just part of the gig…for now. It is going to be exhausting at times. That is why you need a passion project. It will give you energy when energy is in short supply. It will refill your cup.

When I started my first year on the job as an assistant principal, I knew I wanted to pour into the coaches on our campus. We had a young and hungry coaching staff, and I felt like I had something that I could offer them from my coaching experience. We met once a month for 3 years (right until Covid shut everything down), and in my humble opinion, it was awesome. Several of those coaches were able to get promoted, and personally, I was able to see the impact that I was making, which can be hard in the assistant principal job. That was incredibly rewarding for me, and it gave me an opportunity to hone my organizational, relational, and presentation skills.

Remember that it’s not personal

I know. That’s easier said than done, but if you are going to be successful in this job, you have to be able to brush off the negativity. People are going to disagree with you. Some people aren’t going to like you simply because of your new job title. Do the work anyway. This is one of the biggest challenges for new assistant principals. So many of the new assistant principals that I have interviewed for my dissertation have said something along the lines of, “I’m just not used to not being liked.” I have found that most new assistant principals have had very few, if any, difficult conversations with a parent or with a colleague because as teachers, and this leaves them unprepared for some of the negativity that is waiting for them. You have to remember that it’s not personal. Just keep doing the work.

Make sure your calendar reflects your priorities

If you say it is important to you, your calendar should say it too. Over and over again, assistant principals tell me how hard it is to get into classrooms. Often, that is because their calendar does not have classroom time built into it. When that is the case, assistant principals become reactionary, and the most important work gets set aside for the most “urgent” work. Pencil classroom time into your calendar ahead of time. Put collaborative team meetings on your calendar ahead of time. That way the important things are protected. Will emergencies pull you out of those things sometimes? Absolutely. However, I guarantee that if you plan on trying to casually fit classroom time into your schedule in-between each fire you have to put out, you’ll end up going days (if not weeks) in between classroom visits. Master your calendar, or it will master you.

Find people you can lean on and confide in

You need a support group of some sort. I have a group of guys that I confide in regularly. I share my goals, my ideas, and my dreams with them. They hold me accountable to the things I say I am going to do, and they give me honest feedback when one of my ideas might not be so great. They let me vent when I need to, and they know they can tell me to snap out of it when it’s time to get back to work. This work can be draining. You are going to need a community to lean on. Hopefully, we can be part of that community for you.

Remember why you took the assistant principal job in the first place

As I have said earlier, hard times are going to come. Prepare for them in advance. Cling tight to what you set out to do in the first place. You probably got into this role because you wanted to multiply your influence, and you wanted to positively impact the teaching and learning on your campus. That’s what the job is all about.

The problem is that there are so many “other things” that pull you away from that work. Well, those “other things” are the price of admission that we have to pay to be able to do the work we set out to do. The “other things” aren’t the job. They are just what we have to do to enjoy the privilege of having the opportunity to influence the teaching and learning that takes place. Don’t let the “other things” become the job. Do them. Do them well. Don’t let them monopolize your time.

Find a creative outlet

Start a blog. Start a podcast. Paint. Play music. Do something that allows you to create and contribute outside of work. It’s refreshing, and it will give you perspective and purpose outside of your job. That’s how The New School Leader came into existence.

Get to know the purpose of the people you are leading (serving!)

Their purpose may not match yours., and that’s ok. If you are aware of their purpose, it will allow you to be a more effective motivator. “I know that you want to __________. Since that is the case, how do you think we can move the needle in that direction?” Great motivators know that it’s about the people they are serving. Figure out what’s important to them, and help them achieve it. That’s where relationships are built, and that’s where loyalty and motivation live.

That’s it. Hopefully, you found something here that you can start implementing when you head back into the office tomorrow. 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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We’ll see you next time!

3 thoughts on “Seven Things To Do After Getting The Assistant Principal Job

  1. Beth Reply

    Great advise! I’m a second year AP and will be using this on our campus.

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