For the past seven years, schools within the NT and around Australian have been invited to participate in the ‘Principal for a Day’ program. This year’s program is set for September 8. Schools participating have various ways of choosing the student who is selected to become principal for the day. While there is a certain novelty about this program, it offers the selected student an opportunity to appreciate the school from a principal’s perspective. Choosing the right student to fill the job can be important.

A nationwide “Principal for a Day” concept is comparatively recent. However there are schools where this has been part of the program for many years. A student principal has been chosen by the Student Council or by other means of selection. The chosen student is generally being rewarded for attitude and effort.

There have been instances of the student becoming principal with the principal taking the student’s place in class for the day. I had some first hand experience with this dual model.

Mind Set

Swapping positions works best if both the student and the principal embrace their changed roles. For the student who is principal to see, hear and experience the principal’s environment can offer a perspective and understanding of administration not usually shared with the student body.

For the principal who is student to see, hear from and associate with child peers for the day can offer understanding and insights not usually experienced. These might include awareness of classroom noise, the way students mix in the playground, recess and lunchtime activities, willingness or reluctance to comply with school rules and so on.

Experiences the student has, can be conveyed back to the student body as a whole. That might be in the form of a report at assembly. It could also be written with the student composing a piece for the schools newsletter or website. The principal who has had the experience of being a student should reciprocate in a similar manner. Marketing the experience gets the whole school and community involved in the program.
Ideally a file on the school’s website might contain the experiences of students and principals who participated in the program. This would build over time, adding to the culture and history of the school.

This is a fun activity but there can be more to the program than novelty effect. The initiative is one well worth introducing.

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