Data driven decision making, professional learning communities, balanced assessment, formative assessments, responsive classrooms, building school-community-business partnerships, accountability, balanced literacy, benchmarks and standards, achievement gaps, core knowledge, socio-economic factors, diversity, English Language Learners, classroom management, teacher evaluation, special education, student discipline, school finances, referendums, homework, hiring processes, inclusion, instructional leadership, No Child Left Behind, physical education, music and the arts, curricular issues and knowledge, professional development, school culture, site management, standardized tests, state requirements, technology innovations, and on and on............
This list is just a sample of the many initiatives and issues in education that face principals every day (not to mention the many items in your blogs!) Our work, while greatly rewarding, is daunting! We need to understand all the terms, respond the challenge each presents, and be able to implement most of them. However, just implementing will not be effective until we have the following core values rooted deeply within us.
Principals must believe:
- that all children will learn, given time and appropriate teaching.
- "it" can and is being done all across our nation; children are meeting standards and performing at high levels.
- there can no longer be any excuses. In order to invoke change, all educators must believe that they control the conditions for learning.
- students are the central focus of all we do in school. There is no room for power struggles and hoops for jumping through.....All staff members must do "whatever it takes" to support student learning and allow teachers to teach at high levels.
- collaboration is much more powerful than individual work. Principals must become "colleagues" working to be sure students achieve.
- the vision and goals for assuring student achievement are clear, communicated transparently, and shared with staff, students, and the school community.
- whether we like it or not, WE set the tone for our buildings and WE are models of expected behaviors.
- staff look to us to be leaders, counselors, evaluators, resources of information, mentors, and accessible.
- that we MUST take a high level of responsibility for hiring and maintaining the best people. As Jim Collins puts it, we have to take our role seriously to get the right people on the bus and the wrong ones off!
The principalship truly is a huge job with a great deal of variety, interest, and importance. But in order to do it well and navigate through all the expectations, a principal must have at the core of his or her being a strong desire to do the very best job possible to build a community focused on students, their achievement and social development. Thus, Education 101 starts in our hearts and moves to our heads as we make a total commitment to improve the learning of every child, every day.
Have a terrific start to your school year!