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In my first year as a teacher, I was having a conversation with a more experienced colleague, talking about my high school Spanish teacher and what a profound impact he had had on me (I'm a Spanish teacher now, too). I was saying that I couldn't imagine myself ever being as great a teacher as he was because he was so theatrical and dynamic, and I am more reserved by nature. My colleague pointed out to me that great teachers come in all shapes and sizes, and that my job was to become a great teacher with my own personality, not to try to imitate a teaching style that worked well for someone else. Hopefully I am succeeding in taking that advice.

Brad McAllister

"Teaching is a marathon, not a sprint race."

Advice I received from my first Assistant Principal in one of my first discussions with her. She went on to say that not everything is going to be perfect and work how I intend the first time around and this is the nature of teaching. Be prepared for the ups and downs and enjoy the journey!!!

Joseph Mehsling

I honestly don't remember where or who this advice came from, but I've trained a number of interns and more than a few have gone on to the principalship, and I've offered this: A thousand problems will come flying at you during the course of a year. 99% do not require an immediate response. In fact, most will resolve themselves after a few days. If you, the principal solve every problem, you'll wind up with a staff that won't solve their own!

Charlie A. Roy

The best advice i've received is from Ray Heilman a long time Principal. His advice was to actually use your personal and vacation days. He takes off every monday and friday in July to spend with his children and grand children. I love his thinking.

James Yap

The best advice I received was in high school and it is the Jesuit motto and that is "Men for Others." It really guides my thoughts, my actions, and how i want to be remembered. It has definitely served me well in the field of education and every facet of my life.


A superintendent long ago encouraged me as a principal to "Hire good people and get out of their way." It's a foundation, but you also have to 1-ensure they are/stay good people, and 2-give or find the support they need when needed.

Sean Williams

My mentor's advice to me: Get people that can have fun. If you are working with people that you enjoy being with your work is going to be much more productive.

Gilbert Halcrow

One of the best mentors I have every worked with said ‘You can not argue against people’s feelings, you must simple accept them’.

He said it is not just about dealing with volatile situations it extends to analyse peoples’ point of view even it what might appear to be a rational and objective argument.

His other great trick (for want of a better word) is in the face of volatile situations is to suddenly sit and take on a sickly demeanour or ask the person to walk outside - not in a bar brawl type of way but a friendly I-was-on-my-way-anyway-do-you-want-to-come-with-me? – or anything to change the context of the transaction.

I’ve since read some NLP work and ‘Blink’ by Malcolm Gladwell that bears out both techniques. The ‘Good Samaritan’ experiment in Blink is particularly enlightening about how much context creates or diffuses conflict.

Kevin W. Riley

I got great advice before taking over as principal of a charter school in San Diego. I was stepping into a school that was imploding-- where the adults were at war with each other and the children paid dearly. "How would you approach this place?" I asked Claudette. Since we had already been in numerous wars together as we advocated for high risk kids in our community... she just reminded me of exactly what I would have said to her-- "Stay above the bullshit Kevin. Stay about kids!" And so I did. Eight years later the school is now called "El Milagro"... the miracle!

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