(Originally posted on Servant Principal.)

By Walter A. Kozlowski


by pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Principals should be visible. This seems to be an agreed upon ideal, to which I also subscribe. However, there are two things I know about being visible as a school leader. First, I will never be able to be as visible as I want to be be. Secondly, I will never be as visible as others expect. The fact is there is one of me and I cannot be everywhere at once.

I put a fair amount of effort into being visible, but I also work to be invisible. What I mean by this is that I work to create circumstances in which the work of the school can proceed and even progress without my direct involvement.

As a school leader, I become invisible by:

Articulating a clear vision and making sure everybody knows what we are trying to accomplish.

Clearly stating and demonstrating values, beliefs, and priorities and explaining decisions. When our staff has an idea of how I would handle a situation, they are empowered to make it happen on their own.

Establishing guidelines for purchasing and expenditures, then allowing others to control their budgets.

Developing processes for student placement and movement to ensure students are receiving the support they require and changing classes for the right reasons.

Trusting others to be lead communicators. I manage several of our external communication channels, but my assistant principal and clerical staff are vital to our overall communication strategy.

Sharing responsibility. Teacher leaders and department chairs ensure curriculum is implemented and assessed, data informs decisions, and school improvement initiatives move forward.

Delegating appropriately by establishing purpose and giving clear direction.

Communicating, teaching, and reinforcing expectations, putting students in position to succeed.

Leveraging technology. Tools like OneNote, IfThisThenThat, Hootsuite, and Google Drive increase my efficiency.

Creating normal. Because visiting classrooms is a priority for me, my presence causes little or no disruption allowing me to get in and out of classrooms virtually (and sometimes literally) unnoticed.

As principal, I am responsible for everything that happens in our school, but that doesn’t mean I have to manage everything on a daily basis. In fact, our school can not operate at maximum capacity if everybody is waiting on me. Being invisible in the areas I can be, makes it possible for me to be more visible in the areas I need to be.

Walter A. Kozlowski, Ed.S is Middle School Principal. He shares his insights on his website, Servant Principal. Follow Walter on Twitter at @ServantPrincipl.