A Day in the Life of a Principal

The principal’s day is a reflection of many complex interactions such as:

  • communicating with multiple types of stakeholders,
  • managing financial resources,
  • connecting daily with students,
  • leading professional development, and
  • being a collaborative team player.

You may be wondering how one person could accomplish all of this in one day, so I welcome you into one of my days at Jackson Hole High School.

7:30 – 8:00 am Read, review, and respond to approximately 33 emails sent between 6:00pm yesterday and 7:30 am today.
8:00 – 8:30 am Assist school district information coordinator in creating communication for all parents and students in our school about a guest speaker who will be visiting.
8:30 – 8:50 am Walk the halls and visit teachers before the first class.
8:50 – 9:15 am Work with the school counselor around a student who needs additional support.

In order to be most effective, timely responses are essential to meet the needs of our stakeholder community, especially when requests to speak to students come in. Trying to match the guest speaker’s goals with the needs of our students while aligning to school and district goals can be hard, but is necessary to supporting our community.

9:15 – 9:30 am Conduct a targeted walkthrough classroom observation around how to engage ELL students in accessing core content.
9:30 – 9:50 am Begin to plan our next teacher professional development day. Review best practices around the benefits of family engagement. Finalize plans for “learning walks” with community members who would like to tour our classrooms.
9:50 – 10:10 am Work with the athletic director to discuss academic eligibility policy and activities handbook.
10:10 – 10:30 am Discussion call with a consultant group that will be visiting our school in order to get our feedback on the state funding formula.

My collaboration with the school counseling department, athletic director, and instructional leadership team fosters reflection and instructional strategies that engage all learners. As the instructional leader of the school, designing professional development and modeling effective practices is absolute necessary.

10:30 – 11:00 am Develop a team of teachers who will meet with a school funding consultant group to provide their perspective of our school, curriculum, vision, master schedule, and students.
11:00 – 11:30 am Walkthrough observations in English, social studies, and science classrooms.
11:30 – 12:00 pm Respond and review 28 emails that have come in since 8:00 am.
12:00 – 12:20 pm Walk through halls and classrooms, connect with students in library, and discuss what classes students are having the most success in and why.

I involve teachers in key stakeholder meetings to gain a better understanding of our school and the instructional program. I must be visible, accessible, and communicating with students on an ongoing basis in order to monitor our school culture.

12:20 – 1:00 pm Meet with teaching team to discuss hosting a Veterans Day lunch for veterans in our community.
1:00 – 1:45 pm Supervise the lunchroom area while speaking with students, simultaneously checking and responding to emails.
1:45 – 1:55 pm Email examples of “unit overviews”, a school wide goal for all classes to allow students to see written summaries of units and assessment criteria.
1:55 – 2:15 pm Communicate with principal peers in the school district to set up our “Principal Professional Learning Community.”

Inviting and hosting community events provides opportunities to directly engage our students and their families. Speaking of engagement, working with other school administrators is critical in self-development and strengthening the profession.

2:15 – 3:25 pm Work with our school resource officer to update emergency evacuation maps. Conduct an evacuation drill with the whole school.
3:25 – 3:50 pm Review Gates Foundation K-12 priorities around school reform.
3:50 – 6:00 pm Supervise volleyball game while connecting with parents.

Ensuring the safety of students and faculty is my primary responsibility and equally important as continuing to develop and improve student learning opportunities through the latest research. This is at the core of being a reflective and adaptive lead learner.

The day of the principal can be both predictable and chaotic. My role requires the ability to situationally pivot on the fly in order to meet the immediate needs of students, parents, faculty, and other stakeholders. I must be sensitive to a variety of immediate and long term demands, while simultaneously balancing the interests and beliefs of the school community. However, regardless of the complexity, keeping student achievement at the core of the work can act as a grounding mechanism to assist in decision making and doing what is best for students. Thanks for joining me in a day of my life.


Scott Crisp is Principal at Jackson Hole High School and a 2017-18 U.S. Department of Education School Ambassador Fellow.

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Item Date: 
10/30/2017 - 3:07pm