What is the one thing you want your teachers thinking about after their first day?

You’ve been planning all summer for the next school year.  Developing duty rosters, setting instructional schedules, getting everything ready.

The most important thing as the principal you will do for the new year is set the tone.  You’ll do that even before the teachers return.   The communications you send them will either get them excited about the work ahead or drop them into a pre-year rut even before things begin.  The most effective principals are always building an air of excitement about the work of teaching students.  Your summer communications are a big part of that.

Once the summer is over and the teachers return, how do you want to receive them back at the school?  What will you do on your first day?  Will it make them want to come back for the second day?!?

On the first day for students, each teacher sets the tone for the year.  This day has much to do with the attitude that students will have about that teacher and that class.  You can’t overstate the importance of a good start.

The same is true for principals.  You can get your teachers off to a positive, focused, and purposeful beginning with a great first day for teachers.  That first day for teachers is, without question, your most important day of the year in setting the attitude and focus for the school.  I share with new principals with whom I work that you should “capture their imagination, establish a focus, and set a positive feeling” on the first day teachers are there.

What does that look like?  It isn’t  reading through the faculty handbook, going over test scores, or doing logistics.  Your time with the faculty should be brief, positive, upbeat, full of conversations, stories, and ending with one thing you want them to think about for the day, and perhaps for the year.  If it is in the form of a question, it is even more powerful.

That “one thing” differs from school to school, but as we put the Fourth of July (and summer) in our rearview, your focus as the principal should be, what is the one thing I want my teachers thinking about after their first day?

If you can get to that, then it will be easy to plan your first day with the teachers.  Make it a great one!



What do YOUR Teachers Think About the Profession?

Recently, the Georgia Department of Education conducted a survey answered by over 53,000 of the state’s educators to explore why so many teachers leave the profession.  The report from the survey can be read in its entirety here.

The survey posed these questions:

1.)  If you had a student about to graduate from high school, how likely would you be to encourage teaching as a profession?

2)  In Georgia, 47% of teachers leave the profession within five years.  Rank the following statements often cited as the as the predominant reason a teacher leaves the profession.

(The second question presented eight often-cited reasons for teachers leaving education in Georgia and asked respondents to rank them with 1 being the “most predominant” and 8 being the least. The options were restricted to causes that can be influenced by state policy.)

  • Levels of benefits/compensation;
  • Level of preparation when entering the profession;
  • Level/quality of support, resources, and professional learning;
  • Level of teacher participation in decisions related to profession;
  • Non-teaching school responsibilities/duties;
  • Number and emphasis of mandated tests;
  • School level/District level leadership;
  • Teacher evaluation method.

3)  Please list any additional reasons why you believe 47% of the teachers in Georgia leave the profession within five years.


What do your teachers think about the profession?  While you can’t address every concern suggested in the survey at the school level, you can open a dialogue that can lead to conversations that can help you better understand what your faculty is thinking.

Professional conversation is a step towards empowering your teachers, and offers an opportunity for them to identify areas in which you can collaborate.  Consider posing these or similar questions to your teachers as a pulse check and using the data you collect for even deeper conversations.

Our teachers should be proud to serve in their profession.  You can help lift up your teachers through talks about the profession and by doing what you can at the school level to restore honor, dignity, and pride in being a teacher.


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