How principals can build relationships with students

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The perception has always been that if the principal knows your name, it means that you are in trouble far too often. This does not have to be the case. The principal does not have to be the feared presence behind the closed door in the office. The principal must make an effort to get to know the student body of his or her school, and to be a face in the crowd at every given opportunity. If the principal wants to build closer relationships with students, then he or she should follow some tried and true strategies.

If a principal wants to build closer relationships with the student body, then they must make themselves known throughout the school. At every turn, the principal should make themselves visible, by walking the hallways at lunch, sashaying into classrooms from time to time and including themselves in discussions. Simply by getting out there, the principal can build closer relationships with the students. Due to time constraints, a principal cannot spend as much time as they would like mingling in the hallways, but a few minutes spent in the cafeteria during the lunch hour is beneficial.The principal spends the better portion of their day buried beneath piles of paperwork, peering up from files only to cast judgment on a student. The principal rarely gets to see students other than the ne’er-do-wells and recalcitrant students that infiltrate the office on a daily basis. If a principal wishes to build a closer relationship with students, there are several key strategies that can be utilized. The principal was once a jovial teacher that was beloved by students, but is now feared due to his or her inhabitance of the office at the end of the dreaded hallway. The student body is comprised of all sorts of people, and the principal should endeavour to meet all of them, regardless of their academic stature. A principal can easily work with teachers, and find out when an appropriate time could be to come into a classroom, and to field questions. If the principal is seen as having nothing to hide, then he or she may be received in a nicer manner.

The principal can also spend some time before and after school greeting students as they enter the school or get off of the buses. The principal can take this opportunity to be seen as more friendly, since there is no need for discipline at this juncture. If the principal can get to know the names of as many students as possible, they will be seen as less of a scary figure. The principal can say hello to a small group by name, and perhaps ask the one or two students they do not know for their names. This will give the principal some street credit in terms of being a nice person.

The principal should come across as the stern disciplinarian, but they should also strive to be seen as a friend or confidant. The principal can try and attend all sporting events, musical concerts, drama presentations, and any other extra-curricular activities that they can fit in to their lives. This will gain them the recognition factor, which will help them form some friendlier and closer relationships. The more that they get out there, the more recognizable they will become.

A principal can make every effort to seem like a regular person, doffing the persona of old fuddy-duddy. When there are fund-raisers, or fun days within the school, the principal should make every effort to be included, and to show a playful side, a side that is willing to join in, and not to be there simply as the person in charge. Leadership dictates the feeling in and around the school, and the principal has some form of control over this.Another way that the principal can build closer relationships with students is to be a model of consistency. In terms of disciplinary action, the principal should treat every student in exactly the same manner. When it seems, whether or not perceived or reality, that another student caught a more lenient punishment for the same offence, then it becomes a matter of negativity in which the students are under the impression that there are different rules for different students.

During the morning announcements, the principal should speak, and should be enthusiastic and cheery, and should also invite any student with a legitimate complaint or question to come forth, not hesitating to speak to the principal. This will show that the principal is approachable. If the principal ever makes a mistake, they should have the forthright integrity to come out and acknowledge the mistake. This will show their humane side.With so many bright lights and interesting stories scattered throughout the student body, the principal should make it a daily task to find out who these students are, and what makes them tick. Closer relationships are born when both parties are willing, so the principal needs to come across a little bit less imposing.

The principal should have an open door policy, and should encourage all students to come and visit, either just to introduce themselves and say hi, or to come in and air their grievances. The principal, whether or not they are seriously entertaining any ideas, can play the ideas up as positive and possible, but can then blame the education act or school board policy for putting the kibosh on the idea.If the student body feels as though the principal is there for their benefit, and not just for the lucrative paycheck, then closer relationships will be born in due time. After all, you cannot spell principal without the word pal.

Bobby Coles

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