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A Visible Principal: Leading by Example



It was the second week of school, as a new principal of a small public elementary school I was at morning drop off duty. A shy quite fifth grade boy rolls out of the car, grabs his backpack and waves good bye to his mom. I greet Jimmy by name and give him a high five. The mother imediately stops the car and asks me is he in trouble? I replied no. She counters with, how do you know his name? Jimmy groans and says, Ma, she knows everyones name in my class. Jimmys mother looked bewilder; I explained it was important that I know all students names. She softly replied, when I went to school, the principal only knew your name because you were a trouble maker. I smiled and said Jimmy's a great kid with a great sense of humor. She smiled and said well times have certainly changed.


In my extensive 30 plus tenure in the educational realm, I have observed a spectrum of leadership behaviors displayed by public and private international school leaders and have concluded a visible leader is an effective leader. The nuances of effective and ineffective leaderhsip practices have manifested in many ways among these leaders.


Observing both the positive and negative ends of the spectrum, I have come to understand that educational leaders:


  • Who show a demonstrated commitment to the community by arriving early, greeting students, staff and parents at morning drop off and dismisal strenghten their credibility. Leaders who miss the opportunity of participating in the greeting of students, staff, and parents will lose the chance to build credibility and embrace transparency hindering the schools sucess.

  • Who earnestly engaged with studentts, staff and parents during school wide events are very much appreciated. Those who choose not to personally engage in school wide events or conversation send a message of an atmosphere of not being fully vested in student achievement.

  • Who invest in particpation of all school wide events such as inductions, workshops and professional development show they are invested in the schools vision and mission. Those leaders who show up once to introduce themselves and never be seen or heard again unitl the end of the semester, graduation or end of the school year send a message of leaving a void in the connections between them and the individuals they are meant to lead.

  • Who are actively engaging themselves in the teaching and learning protocols such as Walk Throughs, Instructional Rounds, Staff Observation/Apprasial, and weekly divisional leadership meetings will deepen their comprehension of the educational process. This involvement contributes to a more collaborative and informed educational enviroment. Conversly, those who opt not to participte and merely review event summaries may be viewed as possessing little interest in the school's affairs that may inturn fester throughout the organization.



While it is crucial for leaders in international school to be visible and approachable, it is equally important to exercise caution while maintaining professionalism, adhering to cultural norms, and ensure that your actions align with the overall goals and policies of the school. I found it imperative to begin with learning about the cutural sensitivity of the country and school.

Balancing a professional demeanor enables leaders to be both approachable and professional at the same time. The most challenging aspect of a visible leader is time management, which involves handling core responsibilities such as strategic planning, curriculum development and administrative tasks. Striking the right balance is essential for effective leadership in an international school setting.


We should never forget, being a visable leader is one of those core responsibilities. Visible leaders build effective woking relations that enhance success towards all core responsibilities


To discover addtional ideas and strategies gleamed from my experience working in international schools overseas, visit my contact page and send me a message. I am delighted to share articles, and book recomendations with you. This is comlimentary and why not? Free things can be a source of inspiration, right?

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