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The Principal

Posted by on in Education Leadership
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During the latest Twitter #edchat the topic was about the role of the Principal in education. It was an interesting chat because it brought up some interesting questions and issues.

What is the role of the Principal at the school?

Do they have the time to be the best Principal they can be?

As teachers, do we make their job easier or more difficult?

I have been involved in numerous chats over the years and it seems many educators like to label the Principal as the Lead Learner of the school house, but do they have time to be the Lead Learner and complete all of their administrative duties? As teachers we often complain about not having enough time to complete our tasks, but how often do we think about our Principals and how much time it takes to complete their tasks. As I left school on Friday, the parking lot was almost empty as it was 4:45 PM, and there sat a black truck; our Principal was still at school ... on a Friday night ... working. How do I know he was working? I know because I received an email later reminding me to update my grades. Our Lead Learner, working on a Friday evening, fulfilling his role as Administrator.

We can talk all we want about the role of the Principal as the Lead Learner, but how can we truly expect them to be that learner when they are bogged down with administrative duties? Our Administration consists of one Principal and two Assistant Principals who tend to the needs of about 60 staff members, 800+ students, and thousands of stakeholders many of whom do not really care that the Principal is sitting at school on a Friday night working when they call looking to discuss their important issues during normal school hours.

I wonder if we are expecting more than what a human can deliver? When can we expect the Principal, AKA "Lead Learner", to actually be able to lead the learning? In an optimal world I think of the Principal as a Head Coach ... someone who helps me be a better teacher. Either shows me a better way or brings in someone who can help me be a better teacher, which is something that often happens at my school, but this #edchat has me wondering if we are expecting more than what is possible to deliver.

As a teacher, what am I doing to help or hinder the Principal in his role as Lead Learner? I like to think that I help, but reflecting back on the email I received I would say in some cases I am a hinderance. If I did every aspect of my job perfectly than how much more time would my Principal have to be Lead Learner? Now what if every teacher did that? Now what if politicians demanding more teacher observations would actually trust the Principal and Teachers to do their job? This reminds me of Bill Belichick's mantra of "Do Your Job!".

If every person in the school did their job and was trusted to do their job than more professional learning could happen. Imagine what could happen if all of a sudden administrators could stop administrating and become more actively involved in the learning. No more required observations, but rather time spent being involved in classroom activities. Not asking what the kids are learning, but being a part of their learning. As teacher, this is what many would like to see. Principal's involved in making learning better for the kids ... better for the teachers. Hard to do that when they are bogged down checking up on us and completing state mandated paperwork.

What am I going to do about it? Start making sure my lesson plans are done on time and my grades are kept up to date so I am no longer responsible for my Principal staying late on a Friday night.

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Dennis Dill is a Social Studies and Instructional Television teacher at Jewett School of the Arts, a STEAM PreK - 8th grade school, in Winter Haven, Florida. Dennis earned a BA in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences from the University of South Florida and an MS in Education Media Design and Technology from FullSail University. Dennis has been teaching for 14 years.

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Guest Friday, 02 December 2016