As a principal, I asked myself what I wanted visitors to our school to think when they left the building. What thoughts would a parent volunteer, guest speaker, foster grandparent, substitute teacher, or the Superintendent have as they left our school? What did I want them to say to other community members about what they saw, heard, and experienced as they visited, and how would I get the staff and students to foster a positive environment where visitors would take notice and spread the word?
Delaware Academy for School Leadership
DASL Staff Blogs
The Long and Winding Road
Setting The Tone
I DON’T HAVE STUDENTS ANYMORE, AND OTHER FALSE ASSUMPTIONS
When you become an administrator, you are no longer a teacher. That seems incontrovertible. No students coming to you to build a personal connection…no students coming to you to share their triumphs and tribulations,..no students to ask for your years of wisdom to learn something new and exciting. That sounds terrible. I mean,…who is going…
What Matters Most
We have long held a belief that parental involvement is paramount, and we have actively sought ways to involve parents in the decision-making and event planning of our schools. We have come to realize, however, that this approach is vastly insufficient. While asking parents to sit on committees and seek input on school issues is important when considering the inclusion of multiple stakeholders, this approach disregards a large subgroup of parents, namely those that are unable or disinclined to attend meetings within a school. Experience and research tell us these very parents are often the most necessary to include in school decisions. Students who most greatly need the involvement of their parents are those who are struggling academically, behaviorally, and….
Then and Now: Jackie Wilson
Uncomfortable Conversations, and Other Delights.
If you want to be an administrator, expect to be engaged in uncomfortable conversations. All the time…every day…several times a day, in fact!
Your life as a principal is basically one ginormous uncomfortable conversation (I’m not sure ginormous is actually a word, but remember…my blog…and it certainly drives the point home).
You Can’t Unsee It, and Other Fine Messes
ou can’t unsee it. What is “it” you ask? Well, it is really anything, but let me give you some examples…
You can’t unsee a hallway with 7 students roaming it after the bell rings…they are all late. You also can’t unsee the fact that before the bell rang, there was only one adult monitoring the hallway, and that was the (barely 21 year-old) student teacher. You really can’t unsee secretaries being rude to parents. You also can’t unsee a dress code violation, or a smack in the back of the head, or your most accomplished, veteran teacher walking in 20 minutes late for the third time that week…
As a side note, you can’t really unhear anything either (I don’t want to be unfair to ears), so that profanity coming out of the Middle School Principal’s son is a thing.
Oh, The Places We Can Go!
My work provides me the opportunity to travel. Sometimes the travel is up and down our state visiting schools, attending professional development, or participating in a meetings. The size of Delaware makes it possible to be in all three counties in the same day. This is a an advantage when you want to bring people together for professional development or a meeting. The opportunity to collaborate with outstanding educational leaders across this state is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work at the University of Delaware.
When you reach a certain age, some people begin to assume you are old school and have little or nothing to add to the education system. I would like to contend that what I consider Old School has merit today. Here are five Old School behaviors that are as important today as they were forty years ago when I started teaching.
The Road Not Taken
One of my favorite poems is Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. At the end of the poem, Frost says, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” As an educator for many years, I have learned from experience that if we are going to be leaders of change two things are important. The first is to be a learning leader. The second is to be a risk-taker and take the road less traveled. I have tried to be both throughout my professional career. I thought it might be helpful to others if I shared how I have approached both.