Understanding principal retention
Urban public school principals turnover every 2.5 years on average. This leadership inconsistency makes it difficult to get traction on long-term academic improvements and for all students to be on a path to college and career readiness.
Alejandra Barbosa, Executive Director at PIC, believes the issue stems from the increasingly complex nature of the role. “The responsibilities and expectations of the principalship, particularly in our urban schools, have intensified and added complexity to the work,” she said. While the role of school leader used to be relatively confined, the COVID-19 pandemic era and social and racial unrest has created a system where principals wear multiple hats. We often see leaders serve as instructional leaders, content experts, operations specialists, and human resource managers all in one.
Resource limitations, including shortages in teacher or substitute talent, provide an additional job constraint. “Our children are deserving of higher quality educational experiences, but schools are given fewer and fewer resources to do that,” Barbosa shared.
PIC’s approach to supporting school leaders
In order to better support and retain talent at the head of our schools, Barbosa believes in a “human focused approach”. She describes the PIC model as “more holistic” than traditional school leader development because it invests not just in intellectual and academic learning, but also the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of its leaders.
Dallas ISD Principal and PIC 2019 Cohort Alumni, Ruby Ramirez, explained that this focus on personal wellness made all the difference for her. “The most valuable thing that PIC provided was self-care. They taught me to know what my limits are and how to take time for myself without feeling guilty. That will forever be the greatest impact that PIC has provided me because it has helped me to continue in my role and feel fulfilled.”
How to honor principals this month and all-year
With Principal Appreciation Month was in full swing this October, PIC is eager to continue helping school leaders invest in themselves and feel fulfilled. Given that everyone receives recognition in different ways we have tried to diversify how we demonstrate our gratitude.
We also want to name that the act of appreciating principals must extend beyond the month of October. Barbosa explained, “Principals have an incredibly significant job. They drive school success and are visionaries for the campuses that serve as cornerstones in our communities. They shape and design childrens’ first entry point into education and into their path forward in life. They create the school home that provides a safe place for exploration and curiosity.”
She further explained the impact that principals have on classroom teachers. “Without a strong school leader setting vision and creating a path forward, teachers can't do their job as effectively.”
Barbosa encourages community members to show their appreciation for principals by “elevating the profession” and acknowledging the value of the role year round. She also encourages community members to listen to the needs of their school leaders. “Listen to what principals need and provide resources because they are “on the ground”, doing the work, and know what their campuses and our children most need.”
With this in mind, we hope you’ll join us all year in making principals feel heard, respected, and valued.