Behind every great staff of Teachers in any school, there’s an equally great School Principal coordinating and managing the activities of both students and staff members. The work of a School Principal combines elements of teaching with some administrative tasks. They are generally responsible for supervising all academic and extra-curricular activities, overseeing the disciplinary practices of the school, and running the school.
School Principals are also in charge of hiring staff members, both Teachers and administrative and maintenance personnel, managing school budget, and documenting and reporting the academic performance of students to the superintendence and the school board.
These professionals work in all kinds of schools: public, private, day or boarding schools, secular, or religious schools. In most cases, becoming a School Principal requires a lot of preparation and experience in teaching and as team leaders. One of their main duties includes overseeing the subjects taught by their Teachers ensuring adherence to the regulatory curriculum, as well as to the particular ideals, rules, and principles of the school.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks School Principals are required to complete.
- Coordinating and organizing all academic activities in the school:
- Liaising with Teachers in order to maintain curricular, disciplinary, and academic performance standards of students;
- establishing academic programs and extra-curricular activities along with other school districts in order to promote academic achievements;
- documenting and submitting reports on students’ academic performance to the Ministry of Education;
- establishing and upholding school policies; and
- liaising with the school board, the Ministry of Education, and the students’ parents to inform them of school policies.
- Managing school budget, payroll, and maintenance costs:
- Monitoring and recording all school incomes and expenses;
- using the school budget to plan and carry out special school activities;
- proposing renovation and construction of school facilities;
- planning and approving all out-of-school activities, trips, and competitions with other schools; and
- liaising with the school’s secretarial personnel to pay salaries and coordinate all administrative tasks.
- Hiring and training all teaching, administrative, and maintenance staff, instructing them in the common practices and procedures of the school, and coordinating their activities.
- Assisting Teachers and School Counsellors with disciplinary and student counselling tasks:
- Overseeing detention sheets and other disciplinary practices ensuring they comply with school and government policies;
- advising Teachers on how to apply academic programs and how to deal with students;
- providing counselling and guidance to Teachers of students with learning difficulties or behavioural issues; and
- conferring with students’ parents regarding school behaviour and academic performance.
- Ensuring the students’ personal and social development:
- Offering Teachers and staff members concrete tools and discussing strategies to improve students’ leadership, stress management, self-confidence, and decision-making skills, as well as communication and interpersonal skills;
- assisting teachers in facilitating conflict resolution between students when necessary;
- working with external partners (e.g. Psychologists, Speech-Language Pathologists, and Social Workers) to best serve and support students with mental health issues and challenges; and
- reporting any abusive situation to appropriate authorities, whether the student is experiencing physical, sexual, emotional, and/or verbal abuse (e.g. bullying and mistreatment).
- Ensuring the school meets all operating criteria, including health and safety standards.
- Coordinating and overseeing all Teacher’s activities.
- Managing academic, athletic, and other extra-curricular activities.
- Overseeing the disciplinary activities of the school.
- Meeting with the school board, Ministry of Education, or parents regarding school activities and performance.
- Assisting with and overseeing administrative tasks.
The average School Principal salary in Canada is $90,050 per year or $46 per hour. This is around 2.7 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $63,000 while most experienced workers make up to $126,000. These results are based on 26 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Extensive academic training and professional preparation.
- Strong interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills:
- Communicating clearly and confidently, both in writing and verbally, in order to teach discipline and give students detailed instructions;
- using tact, patience, and good judgment when communicating with students, parents, and staff to maintain effective and collaborative relationships;
- being a great listener, as well as being able to easily and efficiently identify students’ needs and difficulties (e.g. learning and behavioural difficulties); and
- being an effective team leader.
- Strong sense of empathy and compassion:
- Demonstrating sensitivity to individual needs of students;
- displaying an inherent ability to make others feel cared about; and
- being able to work within a multicultural environment, showing consideration and respect to a diverse range of students and families of all backgrounds and abilities.
- Optimistic, enthusiastic, can-do attitude, and a strong ability to motivate others.
- High levels of creativity, initiative, flexibility, and responsiveness, as well as strong leadership skills:
- Adapting well to changing demands; and
- using creativity and imagination to develop new insights and to apply new solutions to problems.
- Strong technology skills and the ability to apply them as an instructional tool to support learning.
School Principals are always expected to have a deep understanding of pedagogy and an extensive experience in education. In order to become a School Principal, the candidate must first be a Teacher, meaning that at least a bachelor’s degree in Education is necessary. However, due to the amount of knowledge, preparation, and standard of work expected, most schools look for an applicant with a master’s degree. The process to become a Teacher is further explained here. Many schools around the country also require applicants to possess a School Principal Qualification Certificate which can be obtained in several accredited colleges and universities.
Leadership and administrative skills are also essential for a School Principal. Most aspirants spend up to 10 years building up a curriculum in order to become one. The usual steps are becoming a tenured teacher, being named head of a department, and then applying for the position of Principal when an opening becomes available. This is not all set in stone, though. There are many ways to reach the position of School Principals, but it always takes time, hard work, and patience.