How to ask for (and get) what you want from your principal

Posted on Fri, Sep 12, 2014 @ 15:09 PM

principals2Why is it so difficult to ask for what we want? Perhaps it’s the fear of being patronized, or watching our dreams and aspirations go up in flames when our principal says no.

So instead of asking, we ruminate and think about asking. While the old adage, “you’ll never know until you ask” may be true, there are a few preemptive measures you can take to increase the odds of getting what you want from your principal.

Know the what, why, and how of the matter
Duh, right? As obvious as this seems, many of us have a much better sense of what we don’t, as opposed do, want. Approach getting what you want like you would a thesis statement.

Strong essays hinge on a variety of things, but a cogent, well-articulated thesis statement is the basis for a successful piece of academic writing. Without a strong thesis statement, essays flounder, beat around the bush, lack an overarching purpose, and leave the reader confused and frustrated.

Whatever you want—a school garden, a SMART classroom, longer recess time—you’ll have a much better chance of getting it if you get your thesis statement in order. Your principal doesn’t need another project, so it’s up to you to determine what you want, why you want it, and how you can get it.

Don’t miss the lifeboat because you are stubborn
There’s an old joke: A man is drowning and cries out to God for help. A minute later, a man in a rowboat paddles by and offers to help the drowning man. But the drowning man rejects the boater and says, “No, God will save me.” The same thing happens when the coastguard shows up, and again when a scuba diver swims by and offers the man his oxygen mask. When the man finally drowns, he finds himself at the pearly gates and asks God, “Why didn’t you save me? I waited for you.” God replies, “I did, you fool. I sent a rowboat, the coastguard, and a scuba diver!”

We laugh at the drowning man’s foolishness, but many of us do the same thing. We’re so fixated on what we want that we completely ignore alternatives that may give us the same—and often better—results.

Be open. You may not get funding for that school garden, but you might get enough for a classroom garden. You might not get a SMART classroom, but you might get a document camera. You might not get longer recess time, but your principal may open up the gym during lunch. While the alternatives may not be what you ultimately want, they will give you similar results. Don’t reject them because you are stubborn or fixated.

Recruit your biggest allies—your students
There’s strength in numbers. Getting what you want is going to be a heck of a lot easier if your students want it too. Encourage students to write persuasive letters, create videos, and talk to the principal about your big idea whenever they see him or her.

Look for help elsewhere
In an era of shrinking school budgets, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for schools to purchase even the most basic student supplies, let alone create SMART classrooms and fund what might be deemed “superfluous pet projects.”

Rather than despair, find creative ways to fund your classroom projects. Although car washes and bake-offs work, they’re time consuming and take teachers away from what they do best: teach. That’s one reason many of us have started using online fundraising sites.

Here are a few of our favorite crowd funding sites:

Don’t forget about your local community businesses either! It may surprise you how many of them will gladly lend a hand and offer free resources just because you asked.



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Topics: Educational Leadership, Educational Leadership Degree, Educational Leadership Master's Programs, educational leaders

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