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Tips for the 1st Day on the Job

Let the FUN begin!!

Hey!!! It’s July 1st. A time when most are thinking about their 4th of July plans, travel, vacations, and other summer enjoyment. But not you…no, you have your first day on the job. Definitely an exciting time, yet one that can lead to feeling overwhelmed. As I reflected on my first day on the job both as a principal and later as a superintendent, a few thoughts came to mind. There certainly are things I would do all over again, and a few things I’d do differently based on experience. So, as you launch into your first day on the job, here are some steps to consider.


  1. Get the office ready to go – this might seem obvious, but setting up your office is going to be critical. As the days go along, more and more people will want to visit with you and get to know you a little bit. They are going to look for you in your office. This is a great way to have casual introductions and to show you as not just the new boss, but as a person. Be willing to stop putting away books and photos to sit down and share time with anyone who stops by. By doing this, you will demonstrate how approachable you are and allow you to accomplish two things at once. Key: keep the door open and play a little music.
  2. Get a lay of the land – you might want to jump in and start shaping the school or district in your image, but just stop right there. The best part of an entry plan (30, 60, or 90 days in length) is the gathering information. Even if you moved from AP to Principal in the same school (I did this) don’t leap into changes. Slow down and listen. If you’re new to the school, district, or community, you’ll have lots of new learning ahead of you. New team members, new staff, new community members, and so forth. Take notes, there is a lot of learning ahead of you.
  3. Get acquainted – this might seem to go along with getting the lay of the land, but getting acquainted takes it a step further. This is the act of intentionally making connections. Yes, you need to get connected with your local policy makers, first responders, law enforcement, etc. However, I am talking about getting acquainted with those who might not expect it from you. Go have coffee with your transportation director and maybe bring donuts to the bus garage. Get time with your facilities director and have them walk your site with you. Get their views and inside knowledge of the facilities, you’ll learn very important stuff here related to short and long term planning and facility use. Grab lunch with your special education director, curriculum director, and others in those types of roles. Undoubtedly, you’re going to hear something staff members dislike about an initiative or the IEP process, so get their insights and expectations as early as possible. There are others like these I have listed, but I won’t belabor the point – you get it…get acquainted.
  4. Get comfortable with patience  – if you follow the blog regularly you already know that I struggle with patience. (on that note, if you don’t follow the blog regularly, subscribe now) I struggled, and made mistakes with being patient. Repeat steps 1-3 listed above before you start making a bunch of changes to how your organization operates. Most people will tell you the entire firstyear should be listening and learning. I, again, struggle with being patient and will say the first 6-9 months should be listening and limited change. You know yourself better than anyone. If you are likely to jump into change too quickly (like me) then get comfortable with being patient and develop a strategy to restrain yourself. You’ll appreciate it, as will your staff, down the road.

Hey!!! It’s July 1st. Congratulations on your first day on the job!! Best of luck and have an amazing year.



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  1. Dennis

    Darrin thanks for posting, the best steps in leadership often come from making sure the foundation is laid carefully. These are tactful tips indeed!

    • Thank you Dennis. Being intentional is such an important quality and mindset for leaders. Glad the post resonated with you.

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