It’s August at last and that means students across the country are back in the classroom. It’s a time when students anticipate new clothes, school supplies, lessons and experiences. Your faculty and staff spent a portion of their summer preparing for a great 2019-20 school year. As principal, you lead the way – listening to your team, responding to requests and creating an environment that fosters success.

Through our close relationships with the principals who participate in our coaching programs, we’ve gained insight into the everyday trials and triumphs that back-to-school season can bring. Here are three tips from our experts:

Welcome educators, students, and visitors to your building

Set the tone for an open, friendly and accepting school culture early on in the year. Greet your teachers, staff members, students and parents each morning as they enter the school. Stand in the halls during transition times. Engage with students during their lunch break and learn their names. In doing so, you become the familiar face that is an integral part of the school community and experience.

Build rapport and trust

Visit classrooms early and often, perhaps during instruction or while students work independently. Check with your teachers to determine the optimal time for you to stop by. Talk with students about what they are learning, what their goals are and what they hope to get out of projects. Learn their strengths and challenges and most importantly, follow-up with them. Get involved by offering your teachers hands-on help as you see fit. Position yourself as a supportive resource to build rapport with your teachers and show continuous appreciation for the impact they have on your school’s students.

Promote a growth mindset among your teachers and staff

Establish a learning culture to empower your faculty members to develop their own skills and confidence. Let them know about upcoming opportunities for professional development or coaching. They also can learn from each other through collaborative projects. Promote a strengths-based community where your teachers and staff use their personal strengths to address challenges and overcome obstacles. Lead by example and position yourself as a learner. Consider hosting a book study to encourage dialogue and to build relationships and camaraderie within your teams.


As principal, your presence, support and involvement is critical to setting the stage for success this year and in those to come. Establishing these habits and gestures can go a long way to creating an environment where your teachers, staff members and students will thrive.

We wish you the best in this new year!