1. Regardless of your position, SEEK FEEDBACK from a critical friend or colleague on thing you do well and elements of your performance needing attention and improvement. Be open to advice – it helps.
2. It is sad that many Principals are UNHAPPY in the jobs they are doing. They are trapped in their profession. Too old to change jobs and too young to retire they are counting the days left.
In terms of these issues, it often seems that systems, regardless of location, are more than willing to pass the responsibility buck to schools and teachers. It also seems that tghgosecwho are ‘home feee’ and excused of all responsibility for students are parents and primary caregivers. The fact that teachers are belted with brickbats and seldom appreciated with bouquets adds to the deep unhapppinmes and sense of frustration manty feel. It is no wonder that stress manifests at alarming levels.
Principals talk two languages. The one is ‘above the table’ being the language they believe their superordinates and system managers need to hear. It is about contractual self-preservation and ensuring their future is secured. So many go along with the compliances expected of them by system controllers and their controller, the Government. Those coming on behalf of departments to principal groups meet the above table response.
It is the second level of language, the ‘under the table’ dialogue to which I am referring. When principals talk among themselves without external impositions, they share their true feelings and state things as they really feel them to be. Out come true feelings of frustration and concern, kept away from the eyes of those above for fear of retribution.
My role has been different to yours. I was a school principal in two different systems for just on 40 years. I also filled executive roles for ten years within our Principal’s Association and base my statement on feedback over time. It has been in the latter rather than the earlier years that principal concerns with trends and directions have really magnified – but under the table.
3. Too often agendas for schools are set FOR those schools not WITH those schools. You will find that most principals enjoy their engagement with students and mostly with staff. The imprimatur coming down on schools from above, the burgeoning accountability, compliance and administrative trails fills them with feelings of deep concern.
4. BRIEF DAILY SUMMARIES can be useful. Summary might include: *Activity/project; * How did I feel (+’s and -‘s); *What did I learn; * Implications for study/ work (tasks), people (relations) and self.
5. Consider the value of CONCENTRIC MANAGEMENT as a model worthy of practise by leaders. Teachers and staff members can feel that leaders are better recognising and appreciating them via this approach.
6. Consider developing and including a MISSION STATEMENT of 25 words or less on the reverse side of your business or personal card. I did this from 1987. It can make a significant impact when shared.
7. WEB SITES SELL SCHOOLS. First impressions can be lasting. Potential enrolees may be sold on or turned off schools by online detail. Make sure sites are current, well maintained and student oriented.
8. We have many great teachers and principals. They care! It is awful that there are some who use schools as trampolines: Launching pads to greater, higher, system glory. That is a sad detractor.
9. I believe the most significant value that should underpin our schools and embrace educators, leaders, teachers, support staff, students and community is RESPECT. Without respect we flounder and sink.
10. It seems to me that school leaders, teachers, support staff and students are the ACTORS. The school and classrooms are stages. ‘Education’ is the plot and the future in life’s world the conclusion.
11. Do you like me believe SLEEP is important? All of us, principals and teachers alike (not to mention students) do our jobs ever so much better if we enter each day relaxed, refreshed and ready.
12.I believe schools are best served if within staff there is a mix of age and experience along with youthful exuberance and new ideas. Pairing teachers with this mix in mind can help both team members.
13. In REPORTING on student progress, are principals and teachers frightened to tell it the way it is because of parent response and the fear of litigation? Does that lead to ‘gobbledegook’ reporting?
14. It seems to me that many principals, teachers and staff members are ‘age wearied and worn’ long before their time. Retirement is looked to with longing. Can this terrible phenomena be treated?
15. REWARDS THAT MEAN THE MOST
We all deserve salary and adequate recompense for the contribution we make to preparing the next generation for life’s world. Yet ‘thank you’ from students and parents is a transcending reward.
16. TESTING AND ASSESSMENT
When testing and assessment become the most prominent and dominating feature of education, we are in deep trouble. Beware systems, reacting to government pressure that put stress on teaching, assessment and DATA, where data becomes the number one priority. Then students are no longer students but ‘objects’ to be cauterised and tested every which way. They are no longer the end in outcome and importance terms (schools are for children:Eedle 1978) but a means to an end. They are reduced becoming educational artefacts and objects.
17. PRIME FOCUS
Our prime focus should be on the holistic development of students. Social, emotional and moral/spiritual elements should be considered along with academics. Sadly, the modern focus discounts elements of character development, concentrating almost solely on academic factors. We regard children and students less as people and more as objects to be incessantly rested, measured, assessed and evaluated. We elevate the brain and discount the soul.
18. OPINION VALIDITY
It is of concern that quite often the opinions and beliefs of educational practitioners are discounted because they are not ‘guru theoreticians’ engaged in research and located within universities. I have great respect for academic doctors and professors, but rue the fact that those who can contribute but without the ultimate academic accolade are regarded as having opinion of less worth than those held by high level academics. Ofter practitioners, being those as the chalk face have contemporary experiece. Those within academic halls have often been removed from classroom reality for a long time. Both academics and practitioners should be equally heard.
19. SHARING THE JOY
I don’t believe we should be shy about sharing classroom and school celebrations with the wider community. Too often schools and teachers are canned and criticised when students do not meet expectations. Brickbats are common, bouquets rare. When good things happen we should share the joy.