Ten Questions for New Hires to Ask the Principal

You got the job, and you are excited to start! You know you need to ask about the basics: your daily schedule, supervision duties, and curriculum. What else would your Modern Principal love you to ask to ensure you’re providing the best education possible in your first (few) years? Try these and watch her be impressed!

1. What is your expectation for parent communication?

Bonus: Can I sit in with you or another teacher to watch a hard conversation modeled?

Parents and their expectations of communication vary from school to school depending on a lot of different factors: location, school culture, socioeconomic status – and their expectations may be different than your assumptions! Ask your principal what types of complaints she gets most often from parents. Ask which mode of communication your parents (or she) prefers: email, Remind, phone calls, etc. You’ll be glad you did!

2. Will you look over my classroom schedule and see if I’m maximizing instructional time as effectively as possible?

The Modern Principal values time to the highest degree. She wants instructional time maximized and transitions minimized and creates the building schedule with that in mind. She probably has a lot of ideas to help you do it on a smaller scale in your own classroom.

3. What are the best ways to maintain supervision in this particular building?

Every building has its quirks. Chances are, your principal knows areas that are tricky when it comes to supervision and can give you tips on where you could stand in each hallway to have maximum view of your kids at all times.

4. What does our school-wide data tell us about our Tier 1 instruction? How can I best focus my own class time, lesson planning, and personal development to help meet our school-wide goals?

Every school’s data gives us big picture data of where we need to focus our time and energy even when individual teachers have individual interests and goals. Ask what those school-wide needs are so you can get a head start on doing your own research and feel confident during PD, observations, and walk-thrus.

5. What are your favorite books that have shaped and molded your philosophy of instruction, behavior, or education as a whole?

Every Modern Principal has her own reason for entering the profession and her own philosophies, and a great way to figure those out is to read her favorite books. Not only will you gain your own development, but you will understand your principal better, which will give you more buy-in and strengths in the overall direction of the building.

6. Who are some teachers you would recommend I observe and which subject areas? What should I look for when I observe?

Every school has experts – use your plan time to see them! Find out which teachers your Modern Principal thinks is doing a great job in which areas. Ask her specifically what she thinks you should look for when observing: quick transition times, high-level questioning, structure of the ELA block?

7. What are your expectations regarding innovation and grants?

Before getting $2500 for flexible seating from Donors Choose, check with your Modern Principal. Grants take a lot of work, and your Modern Principal will want to ensure any money coming in aligns with her school improvement goals and isn’t going to be more work than it’s worth (sometimes, a $100 grant can cost thousands of dollars in administrative hours to process!). Also ask in what areas she would like to see innovation in the building and share your ideas – she’ll love to hear them and will probably encourage you!

8. What concerns did you have from my interview that you hope I grow in while working here?

We all have our weaknesses. Ask directly about yours and don’t take it personally. It shows maturity and self-actualization when you can recognize your weaknesses.

9. Why did you hire me? What strengths from my interview are you hoping to see me use while working here?

The Modern Principal doesn’t just hire new people who will “fit in.” She hires people she wants the rest of her staff to emulate in some area. Ask her which strengths she really wants you to showcase – even if you’re a first-year teacher!

10. What does a successful year look like?

The Modern Principal has her own successful year mapped out pretty meticulously. She knows exactly what will feel like success come May. What about you? How will she measure if you’ve been successful in your school year with your students? How will you measure your own success this year?

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