Saturday, October 14, 2006

Should Principals Teach A Class? I Think So

One of the problems I see at the high school level is the disconnect the principal has with the student body. This lack of communication with the principal is a major issue between the students and the administration and hurts the school climate. For example many student issues never seem to make it to the principal's desk and these students then believe that the principal does not care about them or their school problems. This lack of communication can result in misunderstandings between the student body and the administration and result in a poorly-run school. Sure, the principal may meet with representatives of the student government or on school committees. However, we are talking about two to five students, hardly a representative sample of the school's student population.

My idea is to have the principal teach a leadership class for the seniors. What better way for the principal to get to know the movers and shakers of his/her graduating class. Better yet, the principal will be exposed to the issues that most affect the students and can discuss them in an informal and non-intimidating fashion. Finally, being with the class every day the principal will bond with the students and better understand why certain polices bother them and can better relate to their concerns.

The advantages for the students are very obvious. They will view the principal as more a mentor than a remote administrator. their daily access to the leader of the school means that their complaints will get a fair hearing and they will believe they have some real say in school policy when it comes to the student body. Best of all, the students will feel empowered and feel pride in being part of a progressive school.

Having the principal teach a leadership class is a win-win proposition for the school since it unifies the students with it's leader. Furthermore, it allows a continuous line of communication between the two. Finally, it allows the principal to better understand what school issues need to be solved, based upon student input.

12 comments:

nyc educator said...

Assuming, of course, the principal has leadership skills to offer.

You're also assuming, perhaps, that the principal has the necessary skills to teach or control a class. These days, with Jack Welch's Leadership Academy (and thank goodness Unity enabled mayoral control), that may not be the case..

Anonymous said...

I've met only a couple of principals who could actually teach a class. The last one I had was generally reduced to a screaming maniac any time he was left alone with a classroom full of middle schoolers for longer than 10 minutes.

Chaz said...

I don't disagree with either of you. However, the disconnect between the principal and students result in many misunderstandings on both sides and leads to a poorly-run school.

It also will give the principal an idea what it takes to teach every day and be more appreciative of the teachers in the school.

Jonathan said...

My principal is in the hallway, chatting with kids on their way in or out of school. He also is in the student cafeteria a few times a week, and pops into classes. Some students find their way to his office, and his door is open to them.

So I don't think we have the disconnect that all too many schools do have. Still, I would see a class as a positive, even if it is not necessary in this case

Pissed Off said...

Our Principals' most pertinent issues are hats, MP 3 players and cell phones. He has no real clue as to what is going on in the school, although he thinks he does. He is constantly on the PA system. The kids think he is a joke. He walks funny too. One day, one of my students asked me if Mr. Suit had ever been in jail. I looked at him and said, of course not, why do you ask? He said "you know, the way he walks". The student then proceeded to strut around the classroom on his tiptoes, the way Mr. Suit walks. Even my Advanced Placement students have no respect for the man so I can't see a leadership class taught by him accomplishing anything.

I do think the pricnipal should teach a remedial class with some of these kids that are years and years behind on both educational and social skills. If he saw what we were dealing with on a daily basis he might not be so quick to criticize when a teacher has low passing rates or when a teacher has trouble maintaining discipline.

Anonymous said...

I think union leaders should all teach a class too.

Anonymous said...

Principals became principals for one reason, other than the opportunity for cronyism, the bloated salary, the pathetic prestige, and the allure of corruption, and that is: TO GET OUT OF THE CLASSROOM!!!

Anonymous said...

Those who can't teach, become administrators.

IB a Math Teacher said...

I wish that our administrators had to teach during the class period that we have announcements. Maybe they'll realize how much time is wasted because they have to be read during class.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't save it for seniors -- maybe some weeklong class/seminar on some sort of leadership/civic/school issue, targeted at each year. Better they get to know the kids before they're leaving!

I also agree that principals that are visible, particularly at the beginning and end of the day and around lunch are going to be much more successful in getting the atmosphere of the school.

Jennifer Spates said...

I agree that principals should teach at least one class. As an instructional leader, how can you model effective strategies if you aren't ever in the classrooms? Not only is this a good idea to keep the principal connected with curricular and instructional issues, but also just to learn all of the student's names and develop a genuine rapport with them.

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