Gayle Rhoads was, by all measures, a remarkably successful high school and grade school principal. This file, “Principalship II,” was discovered in a folder titled “On Being A Principal,” dated February 12, 1998. (No “Principalship I” file was found.) This advice appears to be written for new principals and school masters learning the craft. The following file, "A Simple Counselor's Guide," of June 14, 1997, appears this was written for new CAP counselors. In these files he reveals a lifetime of experience in dealing with people and keeping interpersonal relationships healthy.

Principalship II
by Gayle Rhoads, February 1998

Keep your mind open to innovative ideas.

Ask questions of knowledgeable people before you sign papers.

Don't take yourself too seriously. No one else does.

Lives are seldom ruined by one mistake. Humanity is resilient.

Work wisely with your board. It can become a springboard.

The loudest voice seldom represents the community.

Wisdom generally resides in understatement.

Sustained popularity is not part of principalship.

Don't be advised by only one person--unless, perhaps, that person is your superior.

Employ the best people you can find. Then let them do their work.

Don't form exclusive friendships.

Eat and sleep regularly. An irregular life leads to irregular behavior.

Finish what you start, but don't start too much.

Keep a low profile. A big target attracts unwanted attention.

Take mini vacations. An hour away changes the perspective.

Know the value of 24 hours. Many problems dissipate with time. Few worsen.

Listen to your Business Manager (Accountant). He/she knows things you don't know.

Don't impose your personal culture/values on others.

Don't sign your contract if you aren't satisfied. If you sign it, don't complain.

People don't always say what they mean. Look for the hidden agenda.

Don't leave the work to maintenance/subordinates. Lead the way in doing the dirty work.

Don't talk or act down to students. Respect their time and opinion. Don't assume a role of superiority.

Respect and guard classroom time. After all, that is what school is about.

Listen to the teachers. They know things you don't know or have forgotten.

Don't get involved in custody battles. They are quagmires and sinkholes.

Legal counsel is essential. Attach yourself to a smart attorney.

The immature tend to take things too far. Don't lose your good sense or your good name by entering into the "spirit of the moment".

Be an adult. Don't try to identify as a child.

Don't think that what worked at the last place of employment will necessarily work here. You are not there. You are here.

Don't talk about your last school. This is your school now. Show ownership.

You don't always have to be right. Don't fight for your way. You won't always be right.

Hold off judgments. Little pieces do not make the whole.

Detailed observation does not mean you see the big picture.

Pray with people. Mention them by name.

Adapt your posture and position to the situation.

Don't defend every hill.

Often the best board members are those whose children have graduated. They have experience, perspective, and are more likely to have balance.

Whenever possible have a witness.

Whenever possible work with the door open. Be sure your door has a window.

Gently nip the problem in the bud, but be sure there is a problem. Don't let it grow till there's an explosion.

Evolution is preferable to revolution.

Society is complex. Simple answers to people problems usually don't work.

Drag your feet on educational reforms. They will likely prove useless, if not damaging.

What we did "last year", and what we did "when I was in school", are not valid criteria today.

Be calm of spirit. If you do not exude calmness, do something else.

Enthusiasm and energy are important, but calmness is essential.

Listen and learn your first year. Make changes slowly and incrementally. Take your people with you.

Accept your new staff. They will become as good or better than you. Remember your past staff having been.

You cannot run from problems. You can only change location.

Human behavior is not fragmentary or capricious. It is consistent and predictable.

Kindness and goodness are more effective than brilliance.

Surround yourself with winners. Don't run with losers.

Don't mess with negative people.

Don't accept too much responsibility. Some problems belong to others.

Don't say, "We have a problem with your child". Say, "You have a problem with your child".

School behavior reflects home behavior. Parents understand more than you do. Don't let them deny it.

Say: "I'm sure you are used to this kind of behavior, because if she treats us this way, she's treating you this way".

Face it! Most parents value school not so much for the education of their children as for inexpensive baby sitting service.

Students are seldom a problem. It is the parents who must be reasoned with.

A gift to a group becomes a right. Examples: sick days, individual class room, agency funds, discretionary funds, personal days, etc.

You wouldn't worry so much about what people think of you if you only knew how little they do.

Select your students carefully. They set the tone of your school.

Don't waste your energy on petty annoyances. It's not the mountains that wear you down. It's the grain of sand in your shoe.

"Planned ignoring" is a great tool. Some students need to be allowed to stop their own unacceptable behavior.

Save your threats. You will usually regret making them.

If you do not (or a colleague does not) witness an event, handle all parties alike--or ignore it.

Beware of your biases. They tend to become self fulfilling prophecies.

Trust your students. Accept their excuses or reasons. Then check it out. They cannot claim they were not trusted. If the excuse/ reason was not valid, then act.

Certain children may be offensive to you and to people in general, but in their parents eyes they are the crowning act of God's creative power.

When you do more than is expected, you will soon be expected to do more than you can do. (Example: Teacher Preference. It's not bad to do more, but you may be creating an impossible situation in the future, or create the necessity for additional personnel).

In the process of teacher employment always visit the prospect on her/his own turf. Talk to their current colleagues and students. Visit the prospect's home, inside and out, if possible.

Children and youth are human. They need time away from work. (homework)

Parents need to have time to spend with their children. Don't try to be responsible for all their children's waking hours. (homework)

A Simple Counselor's Guide
by Gayle Rhoads, June 14, 1997
(This may have been used in the 14-16 Nov '97 Chaplain's Workshop)

Definitions: Counsel = l. The act of exchanging opinions and ideas; consultation. 2. Advice or guidance, especially as solicited from a knowledgeable person. Syn.- Advice. 3. A plan of action.

Counselor = A person who gives counsel; an advisor.

Counseling is helpful, but does not necessarily make problems go away.

Counseling is mutual. Effective counselors make the counselees problems their own. Up to a point!

Establishing rapport is essential.

Counselee is: Shy, reticent. - Read the non-verbal communication. Be patient, listen, wait.

Aggressive, loud, dominant. - Probably frightened. Calm him/her down. No solutions in this state of mind.

Uncooperative, defiant - Be calm, firm. Don't expect miracles.

Attention starved - Be cautious, professional, wary. Avoid the traps!

You give: Time Quiet Calm verbal replies Questions Affirmation Body language Assurance you are listening, understand, are concerned.

First Task: Convince counselee you are prudent.

Don't rush.

Think things through.

Be honest.

Note this: Keep confidence.

Exception: Mandated child care giver. If attached to a Cadet Squadron, this includes you!

Don't get in over your head. Seek advice. The smart ones "Refer".

Second Task: Assure the counselee there is a resolution, ( but not necessarily a solution).

This problem is not unique.

You understand. Restate the problem until the counselee is satisfied with your understanding.

There are many resolutions/solutions. Let the counselee propose re/solutions.

Draw on experience. His/her/yours.

You propose re/solutions.

Listen, empathize, comprehend, propose re/solutions.

The counselee must/will decide. The final re/solution is his/hers!

A genuinely interested, honest counselor will have repeat business.

Christmas 2004

Search Terms: Advice to Principles, Advice for Principles, Rules for Principles, Advice to Schoolmasters, Advice for Schoolmasters, Rules for Schoolmasters, Advice to Teachers, Advice for Teachers, Advice to Managers, Advice for Managers, Rules for Managers, How to Deal with People.