Principal, what are you teaching us?
The number of times anyone is called into the principal’s office is minuscule compared to the countless successes in the classroom (or in the hallway). Teachers are grinding everyday! Grinding away the ignorance, the impatience, and the intolerance. Building trust. Building upon the knowledge of yesterday’s lesson. Modeling appropriate interactions between individuals of similar beliefs and especially supporting of dissimilar ideas. Demonstrating courage to stand up for oneself in the face of adversity.
This is modus operandi for EVERY teacher. Prospective teacher candidates can’t even get an interview with demonstrating competence AND passion. And veteran teachers don’t retire unless that flame has begun to flicker.
Ah, but then there are the climbers. The educators who earn an additional degree or certificate to demonstrate a passion beyond the call of duty–the “super educators” if you will. Supervisors and principals too must daily demonstrate a tolerance for a wealth of factors beyond their control. They learn the most contemporary methods of addressing student achievement through staff performance.
Administrators meet with colleagues consistently to identify obstacles, eliminate inconsistencies, and determine the measures necessary to meet a plethora of objectives.
You see, the objectives for a classroom teacher and an administrator are different. They are not at all aligned. And yet the expectations are the same. Student achievement is supposed to be the overall goal when everyone works together.
When a student engages in classroom activities, the student is enriched. When a student must “visit” with the principal, that too should be an enriching experience. Regardless of the circumstance, the experience should have a positive outcome. After all, the principal and vice principal are the Teacher’s Teachers. They coach and observe, model and enhance the experience for the students AND the teachers.
That’s a lot of responsibility! Who does that much at your job? Along with policeman and fireman, educators are the world’s most noble superheroes. Teachers are there even when the loving arms of a parent cannot be there. They are social workers in the truest sense.
The teachers support their students the way that a social worker provides emotional supports for someone in need.
Who is there to support the teachers? Principals, right?
But wait? Do you trust a counselor who punishes you? How can a teacher trust an administrator whose perspective of coaching translates to discipline.
When a teacher is called into the principal’s office, is it for support or a consultation? Is it to collaborate or is it coach? Well, the answers to these questions rely on the audience. It also depends on who else is invited into the principal’s office.
Principals have the opportunity to lead daily. They can do for teachers what other educators do for students–nourish, enrich, model, and coach. And yet, principals are also the school disciplinarian. For both students and teachers, a call to the principal’s office creates fear and anxiety. What will happen when we cross that threshold?
How quantitative will an experience with the principal be? How will we gauge the quality of that observation the principal just conducted last week? Will that coaching session evolve into a disciplinary hearing?
And what of change that we need? Can the principal facilitate the change that is truly needed? It’s so difficult to trust or believe in someone who is not capable doing what they’ve been entrusted to do. In the eyes of a student, their teacher is noble and kind, wise and considerate, willing and able.
Can the principal be the hero that both the students AND the teachers need? We hope so. We are tired of waiting for Super Man or Wonder Woman.
Principal, what are you teaching us?