OK, I admit that the poll I had up this week about the importance of principals was a little bit of a setup, and not at all scientific. Nonetheless, I was surprised that 100% of the people who answered think principals are important to schools and school culture.
When I first started thinking about schools, I didn't think principals were important at all. In my high school, the principal was practically invisible! Years later, after I had visited hundreds of schools and classrooms, and eaten lunch in many teachers' lounges, I realized that principals were important in setting the school's tone.
So anyway, when I was in graduate school in education I mentioned to a friend who had been teaching for about ten years--first in Michigan, then in Florida--that I thought I might like to be a principal someday.
"Are you kidding me?" she said. "That is the worst job ever!" (I will interject here to point out that I think she was using hyperbole...I don't really think she believes it is the worst job ever.)
She continued, "You have to answer to the administration, you have to answer to the parents, you have to answer to the teachers, and you have no power!"