21 Signs You’re a 21st Century Principal
Home » Education

21 Signs You’re a 21st Century Principal

Written by 16 November 2011

Are you a 21st Century Principal?  Find out!  PLUS if you can help add to my list you may win a special prize for you and 5 of your teachers.  Keep reading to learn how...

1.  You know that PLN stands for Personal Learning Network…and you collaborate with yours daily.

2.  You use Twitter to find and share resources, engage in international conversation about education, connect with other educators, and make announcements to teachers, parents and students that follow you.

3.  You conduct virtual meetings with faculty and parents using the Google+ Hangout feature.

21 Signs You’re a 21st Century Principal

4.  You've replaced the filing cabinet in
your office with Dropbox… and can
access all of your important documents while out and about.

5.  Your school has started paperless initiatives to help cut down the costs of printing and copying.

6.  You have a school website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account…
and they are each updated regularly to keep parents, teachers, and students informed with the latest news, events, activities, and general announcements.

7.  You not only allow but fully support and encourage the use of social media inside school.

8.  You encourage your teachers to take advantage of all of the free resources available online, especially SimpleK12 eBooks and education webinars.

9.  You are actively involved in public relations and fundraising to help secure financial support for your school from local businesses and the community.

10.  You watch webinars, read blogs, and tweet to keep current on the latest education trends and topics.

11.  You encourage your staff to be involved in the selection of new media and technology.

12.  You develop school schedules using a Google Docs worksheet – and have your teachers comment on areas they see as problematic and providing solutions. 

13.  You've organized your own EdCamp: a participant-driven, fun-filled day of professional development for teachers (or you’ve encouraged your teachers to attend a nearby EdCamp!)

14.  You collaborate with faculty members regularly via free web tools such as Google Docs and Titanpad. 

15.  Interactive Whiteboards have replaced nearly every overhead projector throughout the school.

16.  Upon entering the front doors, students make sure they have their mobile devices with them …and that they are turned on. 

17.  You collect classroom walkthrough and observation data via Google Forms (click here to see a great template example!) 

18.  Your technology budget exceeds your textbook budget. 

19.  Computers throughout the school are fully up-to-date and loaded with software, including quicktime, java, etc.

20.  You've purchased Teacher Learning Community memberships for all of your teachers.

21.  You tweet this page, blog about it, "like" it, or email it to someone else...

SPECIAL PRIZE --> If this post receives 100 comments (within 2 weeks of post date) with additional signs of being a 21st century principal, I will pick one person at random to receive FREE Google Toolkits for 5 of his/her teachers!  I will also choose a runner up, who will receive an "I Heart EdTech" frisbee, pin, and SimpleK12 memo board!  So comment now and pass it on!

Share this post with your friends and colleagues:
21 Signs You’re a 21st Century Principal


  • Maureen FitzPatrick said:

    I thought as a school we were doing pretty well with technology. After I read your list, I realized how far we have to go. We will just keep plugging along.

  • Eric said:

    I think that the 21st Century Principal will be instilling Positive Behaviors and Netiquette teaching ideas for Teachers to share with their students. Being safe and showing positive online behavior is very important.

  • Jacques said:

    Throwing in a few other points :
    – You and your staff understand and use technology as a leverage for learning, not the end point.
    – You have articulated a clear BYOD policy for equitable access to technology by ALL students.
    – You and your staff discuss the importance of the learning paradigm shift and its impact on curriculum, teaching strategies and assessment practices.

    (Great post!)

    maureen schlemko Reply:

    Agreed! I was going to add a point about the importance of the paradigm shift. All your added points are right on the mark.
    maureen schlemko recently posted..The Pedagogy ProjectMy Profile

  • Coleen said:

    Wireless throughout the buildings!

    Coleen Reply:

    Great article! I too have a long way to go:) this article is definily helpful.

  • Stephanie Sandifer said:

    You’ve redesigned all staff meetings and PD to reflect what 21st Century Connected Learning should look and feel like for ALL learners — adults and students. Your meetings and PD are a model for the ideal 21st Century classroom.

  • kicode said:

    How about you start conversations with the phrase, I was reading on twitter last night …

  • Group Link Post 11/18/2011 | KJsDiigoBookmarks said:

    [...] 21 Signs You’re a 21st Century Principal – SimpleK12 [...]

  • Deanna said:

    Great article/list. This reinforces how we must keep up with the age of digital information to make our classrooms into laboratories of learning which will prepare our students well for the future. I do think the key part is providing PD for staff on a regular basis. Thanks!

  • Preet said:

    I need to find one of these principals and work for them!

    Sue Reply:

    Ohhhhh, I haven’t had an administrator like this in a long time. Is there such a person out there?

  • PrincipalJ said:

    You’ve replaced your weekly email/print memo to teachers with a blog that includes the staff/student google calendar and a page of resources for staff to access easily online.

  • Ryan said:

    Thank you for sharing. I’m a high school principal trying to implement many of the 21 items on your list but sometimes meet a little resistance. Your post has provided me the fuel to carry on and continnue to think progressively.

  • Laurie Yingling said:

    Your staff supports an enriched model of 21st century learning where students ‘PUBLISH’ vs print and ‘CREATE’ vs Consume!

  • Teresa Garrett said:

    Wow! I wish I worked for a principal like this. Mine is good but we still have so much room for growth. I would like to give her this article but don’t know if she would take it as an insult rather than a suggestion for future growth opportunities.

    @principal_rlhs Reply:

    I’m a principal who’s not here yet, and I wouldn’t be offended to receive this from a teacher…if she’s really looking to get here she’ll be happy to get the ideas.

  • Linda said:

    This article reflects the Principal I would love to work for. So often decisions regarding roll-outs, staff training and ict integration are made at schools without proper thought and research into the school vision. Role players seem to work independently … Just think how one could lead a 21C School and teaching and learning through proper implementation of these tools if team work, accountability and expectations are put in place! It is also of concern when there is no existence of at least a 5 year plan working towards and refining vision and goals as you move forward. These especially in terms of machine upgrades, device types, wifi structures, training … Come on Principals…i challenge you to put the pieces of the puzzle together, develop a school plan with members of your school staff who see the potential, success and contribution a 21C Principal could make to educating our youth! Don’t be left behind…
    Linda recently posted..Discuss All Things iPAD @ the iPADMeetMy Profile

  • Grant said:

    Great list, Grace. I would suggest two additions – Students access course materials from an electronic learning management system such as Moodle. Teachers share materials electronically with an electronic learning management systemm such as Sharepoint.

  • Cynthia White said:

    We not only have a 21st Century principal; we have a 21st Century staff who regularly make use of technology including Google apps in the classroom. However; our evaluations and walk throughs are still done on paper in spite of the fact that all of our administrators have tablets. I’m snagging the google walk through doc and emailing it to my principal. Thanks!

  • Colin Buchanan said:

    What a great post!
    These are all achievable, with a change of culture and some determination.

  • @KathyPerret said:

    I can honestly say, according to this post, I am on my way to being a 21st Century Principal. The only thing holding me back is that I haven’t found a principal job yet.

    Elementary preference. Certified in Iowa and Nebraska. Resume and References can be found here:
    @KathyPerret recently posted..A Master TeacherMy Profile

  • PatMattison said:

    Working hard toward 21st C. tech. Some social media is blocked within the buildings, but students access from home site like the book discussion group. This turns out to be a great way for students to bring their learning home and willingly engage.

  • Remainders: Park Slope parents aim to train parent associations | GothamSchools said:

    [...] A 2o-question survey to determine whether a principal is operating in the 21st century. (I <3 EdTech) [...]

  • Rick Fletcher said:

    This list reads like someone’s selling something. About the students with cellphones – evidence is accumulating that they provide more distraction than benefit. My students ate more mature than K-12 (college) and I ran a pilot program that used personal cells in place of classroom clickers. Performance plummeted and the number of complaints I received about classroom distractions went way up. The situation was so bleak I had to cancel the program after 8 weeks. I hope we are relying on research to develop best practices.

  • Teresa Pigott said:

    Going paperless with the provision of visualisers in all classrooms. Connect with all staff via e – mail. Using Twitter to engage with leaders across the world.

  • Becky Lee said:

    I definitely have a 21 st century principal. Encourages his teachers to join PLN’s as a resource for PD, email to cut cost and stay update with upcoming events, using media to engage students, quality instead of quantity in the classroom.

  • Lauren Beckmann said:

    I’m an elementary principal who works 70+ hours per week. I do believe it’s important to have an online presence and communicate globally on the topic of 21st century learning – beyond the tools to the level of the instructional paradigm shift – but seriously, how do you find the time to READ all these tweets and posts and blogs? Sometimes it’s just so much clutter and it’s making me less focused with every passing year. HELP!

    Grace Reply:

    Hi Lauren, I agree that it can seem a bit overwhelming at times. I encourage you to check out today’s blog post: Twitter for Administrators. It’s a guest post written by an amazing educator who is extremely passionate about harnessing the power of technology to enhance learning. I’m sure that this post will help give you some good ideas! Check it out here: http://blog.simplek12.com/social-media/twitter-for-administrators/

  • Pato Acevedo said:

    Well, i´´}m a a 21 st century principal in process.

  • Scott said:

    Interesting! I wonder how many principals encourage cell phones to be turned on?? Another sign, lunch duty is no longer in the daily schedule. A 21st century principal is in the classroom observing teachers!

  • Ben jij een schooldirecteur van de 21ste eeuw? « Is het nu generatie X, Y of Einstein? said:

    [...] zijn altijd leuk. De eindejaarslijstjes komen er aan, maar dit overzicht dat Grace samenstelde is een overzicht van 21 tekenen dat je een schooldirecteur bent klaar voor de 21ste [...]

  • louisa guest said:

    Great post – will add the points i am not doing (yet) to my new year’s resolution list! Thanks

  • Peter Jory said:

    Getting there! If you have several of those on the go, can you qualify as a 20th Century Principal?
    Peter Jory recently posted..Feedback Month – One Week RecapMy Profile

  • Chase Down Your Passion Like it’s the Last Bus of the Night! | Learning is Growing said:

    [...] providing me the additional experiences I need in becoming a 21st century principal. The blog post, 21 Signs you are a 21st Century Principal, outlined so many of the qualities I have been working hard to add to my [...]

  • Down Your Passion Like it’s the Last Bus of the Night! by @kathyperret | TeacherCast said:

    [...] me the additional experiences I need in becoming a 21st century principal. The blog post, 21 Signs you are a 21st Century Principal, outlined so many of the qualities I have been working hard to add to my [...]