Today at the end of the school day, I stood talking to my principal in the hallway before the final bell. I asked how her day was going and she replied “Good for being my first full day at school this week!” It took a moment for it to set in, being Friday afternoon, me ready to head home for the weekend. WOW Friday and the Principal has only been in school 1 full day.
Let me start by saying I have a great principal, she works hard, backs her teachers and knows curriculum. She is a “lead” learner. She tries to model best practices as much as possible. Was she sick this week? NO. She was scheduled out for meetings, in-services and those “other duties” that come with the awesome task of working in a school. Was this her plan? No, but it was only luck she was here today, her meeting was canceled. Is this just a freak occurrence? Not from my vantage point. I see it with our best leaders and teachers pulled from there instructional duties to other tasks.
Let’s start by talking about Principals. From my reading, observations and conversations they are supposed to be “leader of instruction”. I don’t see them having enough time to be Highly effective here. To lead instruction it would mean they would be in classrooms, teaching, assisting and observing on a daily basis. How? Principals have to great a work load. Their most important task of leading instruction gets pushed aside for all the other demands of the job: District meetings, parent meetings, invention meetings, discipline meeting, required PD (isn’t on the job training best?) State meetings etc… oh and lunch duty, after-school activities and sports. By design principals have little time for their primary role in a school. This seems odd. Let me look further.
Let’s look at special education teachers. These are the very important, highly trained teachers that support those that need the most in our schools. From my experience they are scheduled out more than any other teacher. Not by choice but again by design. They have to attend: Meetings, like IEP meeting, intervention meetings, district special ed training meetings etc…. and sometimes time away to test their students one at a time.
Really when we look at all teachers, they have a tremendous load just like the Principals. Districts need to look at the work load design and decided if the design fits their needs and goals. I hope we want all teachers in the classrooms as much as possible and Principals free to support and guide these teachers. This is a factor in why average principal last 4 years. One half of teachers quit with in the first 5 years. Think about it.