Are you a new principal getting ready to lead your first staff meeting? If so, Congratulations! All of your hard work and training as an educator has led you to this important moment. Now that the reality of this great responsibility has sunk in more, and you begin your strategic planning for the year, you may be wondering what to do for your first staff meeting. What things should you cover? How should you present them? How can you best set your team up for success? There is a lot more to a staff meeting than simply creating a list of agenda topics. Everything you do as a principal should be done with great intent.

This article will start with a big-picture overview of things you should consider when thinking about your first staff meeting. Then, we will provide a checklist of the most basic concepts you should be sure to cover. Finally, we will provide some more insight into other factors you should reflect on once you have the basics down. So relax. Remember to breathe. You were chosen for this role for a reason. You got this!

Tips for Running a Staff Meeting: The Big Picture

When preparing your first staff meeting, here are a few tips to help you ensure you are considering the bigger picture. Below, we will get into more specific things to consider.

First, remember that your staff is composed of individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. It’s important to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas.

To do this, start by clearly communicating the purpose of the meeting. Let everyone know what you hope to accomplish and why their input is essential. Then, give everyone a chance to have a voice by asking open-ended questions and encouraging discussion through structured grade level or content level small group discussions.

Finally, don’t forget to follow up after the meeting. Send out minutes or key takeaways to all attendees, and be sure to address any action items that were identified during the meeting. You likely had a parking lot poster or document up where you wrote down questions to follow up on. It is really important that you demonstrate to your staff that you take their questions seriously and will work hard to follow up on them in a timely manner. By taking these steps, you’ll set the stage for successful staff meetings in the future.

A Checklist Of Things To Cover In Your First Staff Meeting

If you’re a new principal, running your first staff meeting can be a daunting task. What should you discuss, exactly? Now that you have thought about the bigger picture, here is a short checklist to make sure you cover the basics:

– Introduce yourself and your vision for the school

– Share your expectations for the upcoming year

– Get to know your staff members and their roles in the school

– Discuss any changes or updates to school policies

– Brainstorm ideas for improving student achievement (use data)

– Answer any questions or concerns that your staff may have or write them down for follow up

What to Do After the Meeting

Once the meeting is over, it’s important to take some time to follow up with your team. Thank them for their participation and let them know that you’re looking forward to working with them.

Be sure to send out any relevant materials from the meeting, including minutes, agendas, and action items. Finally, take a few minutes to reflect on the meeting yourself and identify any areas that need improvement.

It is always a good idea to check in with your leadership team and union reps to ask for their perspective on the meeting. Make sure to look for patterns in their feedback so you can recognize and address common trends.

Showing your team that you value feedback and are willing to act on it will go a long way in establishing your credibility as a site leader.

Digging Deeper: Honing In On Your First Staff Meeting

Be Your Authentic Self

One of the best pieces of advice for new principals is: be your authentic self. It can be tempting to try to be someone you think others want you to be, but it’s important to be genuine. Your staff will respect you more if they know that you’re being honest and true to yourself.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should share everything about yourself with your staff. But it does mean that you should be open and transparent when it comes to your values, beliefs, and goals for the school. Consider your philosophy on leadership and your story as a leader. Then, find a way to portray that story to your team.

If you’re not sure where to start, try asking your staff for their input on what they’d like to see from their new principal. This can be done in a survey prior to the first staff meeting.

Authenticity is key in building trust with your staff. So don’t be afraid to let them see the real you!

Find Ways to Recognize and Introduce Your Team

One important thing to keep in mind is to find ways to recognize and introduce your team. This is important because it will help everyone feel comfortable with each other and let them know that you’re approachable.

There are many ways that you can go about doing this. One idea is to have everyone go around and introduce themselves. You can also ask people to share something fun or interesting about themselves.

Another option is to play icebreaker games or activities that will help everyone get to know each other better.

It is likely that your team traveled or did other fun stuff over the summer. You can ask them to submit a picture of something from over the summer. You could project the pictures during your meeting and ask whoever submitted them to stand up and introduce their role on the team and why they chose the picture. This is a great way to recognize individuality on your team.

Whatever method you choose, just make sure that everyone has a chance to participate. By taking the time to get to know your team, you’ll be setting the tone for a more positive and productive meeting.

Respect Your Staff’s Time

As a new principal, it’s important to respect your staff’s time. One way to do this is to make sure your staff meetings are well-organized and efficient. You can accomplish this by:

  1. Start on time and end on time.
  2. Have an agenda and stick to it. Use the parking lot if discussions start to get away from the agenda items.
  3. Be clear and concise in your communication. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands what needs to be done.

Ask for Input Regarding Priority Topics

As a new principal, it’s important to get input from your staff regarding what topics should be prioritized at your first staff meeting. You can do this by sending out a survey beforehand or by meeting with your site leadership team to collaboratively make the agenda. Once you have a good idea of what your staff is interested in, you can start to plan your agenda accordingly.

Be sure to send your agenda out to the entire team well in advance. Think of everyone at your site. Don’t just focus on your teachers. Remember, you have an entire classified staff that you also need to lead.

Provide Food

If you want your staff to be engaged during your first meeting as principal, make sure to provide food! A potluck is a great way to get everyone involved and to try new things. Plus, who doesn’t love food?

Make sure to have enough for everyone and to accommodate any dietary restrictions. You can ask for dietary restrictions in the survey you send out. This way, you will have this written down and documented for all future meetings.

You can also just pick up coffee and bagels. A little effort here goes a long way.

Make Sure Topics Align To Your SYPSA And Other Site Goals

One of the most important aspects of running your first staff meeting as a new principal is to make sure that the topics you discuss align with your school’s goals. This means being familiar with your school’s SYPSA (School Year Planning and Site Assessment) and other site goals. By discussing topics that are important to your school, you can ensure that your staff is on the same page and working towards the same goal.

You should take time over the summer to review your SYPSA and school data. When you meet with your leadership team and set your agenda for the staff meeting, it is your responsibility to ensure that whatever topics you decide on as a team are relevant to the current needs of your students.

Make it Fun!

Your first staff meeting as a new principal can be a daunting task, but don’t worry! There are some easy ways to make sure your first staff meeting is a success.

  • Brainstorm some creative ideas to get everyone involved and excited about the meeting.
  • Be intentional about your icebreakers. Don’t underestimate the power of play in building community. 
  • Consider wearing a funny hat or wig. Put up balloons and streamers in the doorway. Make signs to welcome your staff. 
  • Whatever you do, just try to make sure everyone is having a good time!


As you can see, there is a lot more to running your first staff meeting than simply putting some topics on an agenda and emailing it out. You should reflect deeply on what kind of tone you want to establish for the year. Your first staff meeting is one of the greatest opportunities for you to do so. Once you are sure you have covered the basics, take some time to think about how you can really add to your staff meeting. Beyond the topics and the data, you should work towards establishing and building culture. Again, remember that you were chosen to lead your community. That is a great honor. Have fun and rock the start of your school year!

More about being a first-year principal: Lessons in Leadership: 5 administrators share advice for first-year principals