A reader asked for a thread on new principals but heck, let's just open it up. What are your thoughts on principals? What, to you as a parent, makes a good principal? Is your principal responsive to parents? To staff? How is staff morale at your school?
I have said many times that I used to think that a successful school was a three-legged stool with one leg being staff, one leg being parents, and one leg being the principal (and the seat is, of course, the students being supported by the legs). However, as I've moved through the system I see that a principal is (can be) the most important part of a good school. Or rather, you can't be a successful school without a good principal
A good principal can inspire both staff and parents. A good principal can make parents believe (and therefore invest time and resources) in a school. A good principal can make students feel welcome every day.
My experience is that I've had good and not-so-good principals. There was only one principal who I felt was ineffective (for staff, students and parents). Luckily she was only around a couple of years and has now left our district. I have to say that there was really only one or two principals who I felt really tried to be there for parents. Oh, some gave lip service to parents but seemed to expect that parents would, of course, give their all for their school.
I believe that principals are more likely to want to please their staffs and their bosses. I do get that; you want to have a good relationship with the people you work with. Even though parents are the so-called consumers and the ones who are the glue in every good school, most principals will side with staff or protect their staff before agreeing with parents. I know there are union rules about what a principal can say or not say about staff but it is demoralizing to have a concern and have it - usually - vanish into a black hole in the principal's office. It is also sad to go to a principal with a new idea and ask about making it happen and it just dies.
It can feel sometimes like principals expect much from parents but parents aren't in a position to expect a lot from a principal.
I believe that the principal's job is a balancing act and I believe that many principals do their best every day. It's just that it's a job with many moving parts and it takes a good skill set to be good at it.