How Can School Principals Lead in Tough Times?



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One of the largest sectors that the recent coronavirus outbreak affected was education. As soon as COVID started spreading, several countries immediately closed down all schools, colleges, and universities. Several health experts also claimed that letting schools remain open was too big of a risk. Now, this came as nothing less than a shock to almost all school heads and administrators. They had to urgently make crucial decisions about students and the future of their institute. And many schools suffered and are still suffering because of their inability to perform well during a crisis. 

One and perhaps the most fundamental reason behind the underperformance of many schools and colleges was the lack of effective leadership. Having a school principal who can lead effectively, especially during uncertain times, is vital. Effective leadership fosters a positive and high-quality experience for learners and the staff. An effective school principal has the power to make or break a school’s culture. Educational leaders are also responsible for building strong connections with parents, students, staff, and the community. A good leader must also look out for their teachers and provide them with adequate training to ensure quality in delivery. 

Students expect principals to be genuine and be able to connect with them. They must not hold grudges or show aggressiveness. Remember, kids these days are much brighter than we realize. They can quickly understand who’s nice and who’s not. However, all these skills don’t come to a person (or principle in our case) naturally. Every individual needs to acquire them through training and education. Suppose you plan on leading an educational institute one day. In that case, you must look into educational leadership online Master of Science programs. It is an excellent program that will add significant value to your skillset and prepare you for your career as a principal. 

Now let’s talk about a few ways school principals can lead during challenging times. 


  • Establish effective communication 


Communication is critical to success across all fields and industries. It builds a positive workplace atmosphere, provides clarity of direction, and establishes trust and loyalty. Communication also increases engagement, improves productivity, promotes team building, and prevents problems.

Communication makes learning more accessible, helps students and teachers achieve their goals, and strengthens the student-teacher relationship. Many people might think that leaders are unable to lead effectively due to little or no information available. However, that is not true. Instead, with massive advancements in technology, we have access to an overwhelming amount of data. But the problem lies with communication channels. Clear and concise communication is necessary to share updated information regularly. Especially for school leaders since they need to ensure all school staff and students remain on the same page. It modifies attitudes and encourages effort. It increases student achievements, raises the level of satisfaction amongst the stakeholders, and effectiveness in the administration. Without communication, a school environment would be chaotic, stereotypes would develop, and learning will improve. 


  • Focus on what’s most crucial 


Suffering from uncertain times means facing several restrictions. Therefore, aiming to achieve all of your set goals isn’t an intelligent plan. You instead need to cut down on your aims and objectives and decide what is essential for your institute and its members. 

All school administrators must focus on two or three schoolwide goals to yield the highest benefits and rewards. It might be difficult for many school leaders to limit their goals considering a school usually has too many plans. However, it is essential to realize that you can only perform well if you prioritize what is most crucial during times of urgency. These goals can include improving literacy, reducing absenteeism, promoting equity, or ensuring student safety. Every school will prioritize a different set of plans. However, schools must be measurable, based on evidence and data, and identifiable whatever goals the school selected. 


  • Create a hospitable climate 


As mentioned above, the power to formulate a positive school culture resides in the principal’s hands. A positive school climate encourages student attendance, reduces stress in teachers and students, and boasts a productive mindset. All of which are essential during challenging times. 

Principals can create a positive, hospitable atmosphere by addressing students’ needs, catering to their problems, and establishing an overall supportive culture. Other factors like making classrooms more visually appealing and customizing classroom seating also aid a more hospitable school climate. Positive school culture is vital because it allows students to explore and showcase their talents and abilities. It promotes effective learning, increases confidence, and encourages students to discover their true authentic selves.  


Even though leading a school is highly rewarding, it can also be a hustle at times. Every industry has its negative, unproductive days, and so does the education sector. What’s essential is that principals never lose hope and never give up. They are the leaders, and it is their efforts and strategies that will result in the outcome. Therefore, remember, if you focus on your skills and training and give your best to the job, you can overcome any obstacle.

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