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Peek Into A Typical Day for Six Principals

By Sarah D. Sparks

This post first appeared on the Inside School Research blog. 

Leading a school is not a 9-to-5 job, by a long shot. 

Last week I looked at a federal study of principal time which found that school leaders regularly clock 60-hour work weeks. While the study didn't dig into many details of what principals were doing from day to day, a handful of school leaders helped us fill in the blanks through a video diary one day last week. As you can see in the timeline below, principals wear a lot of hats—and sometimes even a wig or two—in the line of duty:

A separate new study of North Carolina charter schools finds that the size of that workload goes for charter school leaders as well as those in traditional district schools. 

The Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast found the charter principals studied in North Carolina worked 60 hours a week on average, but leaders of newly opened schools clocked 70 hours a week.

The charter leaders reported spending the most time on parent communication and school regulations (about 5.5 hours a week on each), and the least time on lesson planning and providing professional development to teachers. That may differ slightly from traditional district principals, who reported in the national study that they spent the most time on administrative tasks and curriculum and teaching leadership.

However, there may be differences in the ways the national and North Carolina studies defined categories of tasks. For example, charter leaders still reported spending 5.4 hours a week on classroom observations and 4.9 hours a week on mentoring teachers, both tasks that were considered curriculum and instructional tasks in the national study.

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