Who Wants to be a Principal?

How many principals have been told, “I would never want your job.”  And how many principals have thought upon hearing these painful words, “You know, that guy may have a point there!”

The truth is that the negatives of the job can be truly overwhelming.

Take student discipline for example. Most principals who have been in the business a while have given tens if not hundreds of suspension for fights or disciplinary actions for such common offenses such as obscene language, truancy, or harassment.

To be a principal in the big wide world of education today means to be dealing with complaints, disputes, and problems constantly.  But that is only part of the challenge. Principals must schedule their time around school functions, and events such as athletic contests, banquets, concerts, fundraisers, community events, and the list go on and on.

Simply put, staying focused on the primary role of the principal- educating and providing the opportunities by which the students can grow during these critical years- is no small feat!  How do administrators manage to pull that off? How can today’s principal answer that guy who wants to know, “Who would want your job?”

What About the Upside?

Well, first of all, the job is not as depressing or harried as it may seem.  For a while the challenges are abundant and incessant, the rewards are very great as well.  Take for example what a principal can see in just one hour of venturing out into the hallway to “check on what is going on inside the classrooms.”

The principal might see math students learning the basic functions that will become the foundation of children’s ability to someday survive and even thrive in today’s complex economy. Or what if he/she wandered into an English class where the kids are learning how to read and comprehend a piece of literature- the tools needed to be a literate, productive members of society.

Being able to witness enthusiastic teachers display their creativity and network with other teachers to lift the child’s educational experience to new levels is both uplifting and gratifying. Or to see parents finding the time to come to school whether for a recital or some educational activity to participate in alongside their children. 

Some Problems Have a Solution Such as Students Needing Speech Therapy

And aside from the accomplishments, many of the problems themselves are solvable.  While it is painful to see students who are bright and motivated being held back due to their need for mental health or speech therapy, there are solutions to these problems.

Perhaps some suggestions would be helpful to lighten the heavy load principals carry around.

  • Force yourself out of the office and into the classrooms as much as possible to get an “injection” of positive energy.
  • Take the difficult times and make them into “learning moments.”
  • Provide quality speech and mental health therapy for students requiring speech and mental health therapy.
  • Cherish the opportunities to spend time with the valuable kids and teachers in the school
  • Be sure to indulge yourself in enjoying the “small victories” and moments of joy.


It is easy to get carried away by the difficult moments and lose perspective. This doesn’t mean to ignore the negatives. Rather it means to solve the problems as they arise proactively. And hold those negatives that can’t be solved in sharp relief against the positives.  This is the way to avoid getting overwhelmed and allow the school to continue to benefit from a great principal.