Understanding the schedule of the building principal is helpful when selling products to school districts. The building principal can make direct purchases for up to $10,000, and he or she has big input and influence when it comes to district and building purchasing decisions.
It is imperative to know that a building principal works in organized chaos because he or she has to be able to pivot on a dime to meet the needs of the people he or she serves. A well-planned schedule can go by the wayside if anyone of a dozen scenarios plays out. Group bullying, bomb scares or classroom disruptions put the educational leader into management mode until conflicts are resolved and needs are met. A day can begin in on a great note and end in crisis mode, and that is just part of the principal’s day.
Building principals have varied start and end times:
- High schools start between 7:20 am and 7:45 am and end between 2:30 pm and 2:45 pm
- Middle schools start at 7:55 am and 8:10 am and end between 2:50 pm and 3:20 pm
- Elementary schools start between 8:15 am and 9:00 am and end between 3:25 pm and 4:00 pm
The Hour Before School Starts
- Principals, on average, come in at least an hour earlier than everyone else. It is a quiet time to catch up, focus and prepare for the day.
- The principal uses this hour before school to make sure nothing is left from the day before. Unfinished business has top priority.
- In a perfect world, during the morning hour, the night before emails are checked, messages are returned, and appointments are made.
- In reality, the hour before school is chaotic, at best, and people have a myriad of needs to be met. Before the first bell, a line can form at the principal’s door with staff asking do you have a minute, leaving no time to even look at emails, much less answer them.
The Day Begins
- At first bell the principal is in the hallway, greeting students and staff.
- Once the second bell has rung, the principal can take a deep breath and return to his or her office for about an hour. It is now he or she will meet his or her administrative assistant, the one you want to know well, to check emails, prioritizing, discarding or answering as time allows.
- The schedule for the day is rechecked and, if needed, adjusted with appointments rescheduled to accommodate the new day’s urgent needs.
A typical day for a building principal may look like the following:
- Greet teachers and students as they enter school
- Touch base with maintenance staff
- Check for the scheduled appointments for the day with the following
- Support staff
- Cafeteria managers
- Community members
- Make daily announcements
- Make classroom visits, throughout the day
- Meet with counselors regarding budget
- Attend district meeting regarding curriculum
- Meet with those students on behavior plans to be sure all is going well
- Call parents who have called
- Return calls from the previous day
- Lunch supervision
- Playground supervision
- Be in the hallways during passing times to greet students
- Be visible at the end of the day to say goodbye to staff and students
After the official school day is over, any one or more of the following could be on the docket:
- Department chair meeting
- Student meeting
- District budget meeting
- Varsity football game
- Play rehearsal
- Student club meeting
- Community Chamber of Commerce meeting
- PTO meeting
Technology – How much technology principals use
1. All building administrators use phones, tablets and computers, which are synced, so all information is on each device. Because we live in the digital age, most leaders check phones and tablets throughout the day. Rarely does a building administrator wait to check emails until he or she is back in the office. Checking throughout the day is more efficient and practical; however, checking is not answering.
2. To assure your email is one that catches a busy principal’s eye, fill in the subject line. Principals receive 100’s of emails a day, so they, along with the administrative assistant, have an eagle eye to discern what is kept and what is discarded. Your email needs to stand out.
3. All digital communication is connected, though administrators have separate school accounts and personal accounts. Administrators do check school emails at home, but it is not what they want to do. Unless the business is a crisis, it waits until the next day to be addressed. As a courtesy, do not presuppose to use a personal account for school business. School is school and home is home, and it is important to respect that.
4. Do not just rely on emails to communicate with a building principal. Calling is important too. However, you will not be put through to the principal. You will connect with his or her assistant, who filters calls, deciding who will get through. Your relationship with this person is your gold card to success.
5. Hard copy mailings are not outdated just yet, so send a marketing brochure too. Though the assistant goes through all the mail, it is given to the principal to look at when time allows, Of course, it is prioritized so he or she looks at the most urgent first.
6. Once the school day is over, and that is not when the last bell rings, and students are dismissed, a quiet time sets in and the principal is able to check the emails again, actually reading them, filing what needs to be filed and answering what needs to be answered. This is not to say that throughout the day this has not been done, but for certain, time is taken at the end of the day for emails and messages.
7. After this time, a principal is off to fulfill community responsibilities before heading home. The chance that he or she will focus on emails after this is slim.
Things to Remember
In summary, a principal’s day is never done. The job flows out into the community, so no day is 9 to 5. Know this and set your contact schedule accordingly.
Early mornings are chaotic, and emails may or may not be answered.
- Throughout the day, emails will be checked and the urgent ones responded to.
- The less urgent emails will be filed, to be answered as time allows.
- Principals use iPhones, tablets and computers, and most have a phone or pad with them always.
- A phone call mid-morning or mid-afternoon has a good chance of being returned that day. You might even be transferred to the principal, if you have established that relationship.
- An email cannot be missed, but it can be overlooked so make sure the email count.
- Emails may be checked once the administrator is home, but a response is not likely
- Late night emails wait until the next day
- Remember, if you send an email later in the evening, all the early morning emails will appear before yours.
- Be an early morning email sender, remembering emails will be checked again before 10:00 a.m.
- Be a middle of the day email sender because earlier emails have already been seen and the list will be shorter.