My top 5 lists

As I make the move into my first principalship, I asked all the primary teachers and the secretary at my current school for key pieces of advice that I should keep in mind at my new job.  Having never taught primary, but understanding how important these years are, I thought it would be very valuable to have one page of advice to post front and center above my desk.  Then, each day, I would always have this advice in front of me.  I thought it would be a good start.  These 5 people represent over 100 years of teaching experience, a goldmine of ideas should one choose to listen.

After compiling these ideas, I thought it might be interesting for others to see them, and perhaps it might help you too.  So, here they are, my key points to remember:

Kindergarten teacher #1

  1. Put in an appearance every day
  2. Full time TA starts here in the fall, and stays until the K teacher says it’s good.
  3. Set up a recycling spot for gathering useful resources the entire school could use.
  4. Find the $ for field trips.  These really motivate primary kids
  5. Connect with the families through a variety of activities such as corn roasts, dances, activities, family nights.

Kindergarten teacher #2

  1. Use your instincts as a dad (show your empathy and compassion)
  2. Find a way to solve the problem (let everyone know you’ve got their back)
  3. Understand your teachers and treat them as they need. They aren’t all the same, don’t treat them the same. Personalize.
  4. Show your teachers and parents you have a balanced life too.
  5. Teachers’ time is precious. If they don’t need to be involved, consulted, or advised, just do it yourself and inform them of your decision .


  1. Make your instructions clear. Communicate.
  2. Have a back and forth communication file with papers to sign, letters to type, items that need to be dealt with.  Do everything in the file in a timely manner.
  3. Budget, don’t assume

Grade 1

  1. Sort and sift the email, don’t just forward everything
  2. Listen to all the staff, and act in a way that shows you listened.
  3. Validate the kids by going on their fieldtrips, listening to them and being friendly
  4. Buy good pencils
  5. Understand you can’t fix everyone

Grade 2

  1. Recognize the time needed for primary assessments and find a way to help with this big task.
  2. At the start of the year, ask teachers when are the times of year they need extra help. Spell them off when they need it. Remember, it’s not in a teacher’s nature to ask.
  3. Listen to the teachers when they come for help, and ask how they’d like me to help them. Then do it.
  4. Spend time with kids every day, and get to know them
  5. Early intervention is key (before grade 3)

Bonus advice:

  1. Ask kids questions, and listen. Have their ideas show up in what you do.
  2. Discipline can be very effective with primary kids (has a big effect)
  3. Deal with discipline problems in a way the teachers are comfortable with .
  4. Make it clear to primary kids a trip to the office is bad

About Ron Sherman

I am the principal of Salmo Elementary/Secondary School, a small rural K-12 school in the Kootenay Lake School District. Happy to be part of the Grand Conversation, moving learning forward and joining with great people every day. Runner, triathlete, skier, blogger, loving husband and father of 2 great boys
This entry was posted in Education, Leadership. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to My top 5 lists

  1. I came across your blog through your Twitter account, then browsed around looking at older entries. Just wanted to say that this was a great entry. I love that you asked for these suggestions from your staff and also think their responses are truly insightful. It’s interesting to see the different perspectives coming from different members of your team. Thanks for sharing this!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s