Principal Survey: Voices from the Field

In preparation for the launch of a new Principal Leadership Community, edWeb conducted a survey of principals in May of 2019 to probe the topics of most interest to principals in current times. What are their biggest challenges and their biggest accomplishments over the course of the past school year? Shannon Holden, Principal of Pierce City High School (MO), our host and moderator for the Principal Leadership Community, provides an interpretation of the results, and you can download the report below.

Principal Survey | May 2019

The principalship is a difficult position in which to excel. Many will agree that principals are the most critical ingredient in the educational system. Thousands of men and women take this challenge every year, hoping to inspire the best in their students and staff.

edWeb has established a community, Principal Leadership: Making a Difference, that will provide guidance for principals through a series of edWebinars on a variety of topics. In order to address the needs of principals, a survey was sent out to administrators across the United States to assess their biggest areas of need.

Input from 150 principals was analyzed. The majority of responses (63%) came from elementary administrators, with approximately 35% from middle-level principals and roughly 20% from high-school principals.

When asked what topics they were most interested in, the highest rate of interest was registered as “Providing High-Impact Professional Development for Teachers”. The next three highest were related to providing a positive school climate, facilitating a student-centered learning environment, and creating an atmosphere where students and teachers were not afraid to take risks.

As for other topics principals would like to see explored through webinars in the Principal Leadership community, many of the respondents asked for guidance on how to reduce stress, delegate tasks to subordinates, avoid burnout, engage in more effective (and guilt-free) self-care, and achieve a better work/life balance. Principals report experiencing a shortage of time and money, and would like strategies to maximize the time and resources they already have at their disposal.

Administrators were also asked what their biggest challenge was during the 2018-2019 school year. Approximately half of respondents cited challenges related to teachers – teacher evaluation, turnover, collaboration, retention, hiring, training, coaching, morale, attitude, motivation. Developing relationships with teachers where the principal can provide feedback in a constructive way and hold teachers accountable to a standard without damaging the relationship. Two of the best responses had to do with a principal of legend. How does a new administrator know what to change and what traditions to uphold? How does a new administrator put their own mark on the school culture and procedures while simultaneously maintaining the support of veteran staff?

When asked what their biggest accomplishment was this year, many principals expressed satisfaction with their efforts to increase student test scores, attendance, student relationships, and parent satisfaction. However, the largest number of respondents were happy about their ability to positively affect building a positive climate and culture.

It is the goal of the Principal Leadership community on edWeb to facilitate dialogue among administrators nationwide to share leadership techniques. edWebinars will provide presentations and conversations with innovative principals on a variety of topics, recorded and archived for viewing at any time.

Download the Principal Leadership Survey Results

Watch the edWebinar on the Survey Results 

Shannon Holden, Principal, Pierce City High School, MO 

Shannon Holden, Principal at Pierce City High School in Missouri, is the host and moderator of three professional learning communities on edWeb: Principal LeadershipTechTools for the Classroom, and Teacher HELP! Shannon served as an assistant principal for 20 years in Texas and Missouri, has taught high school history and math, and was an online instructor at the university level. Shannon presents frequently to teachers and administrators about classroom management, maintaining positive relationships with parents, instructional strategies that engage students, and implementing technology in the classroom.