08 October 2007

The Big Cheese

From what I can tell, most staff members at the school love the principal. The reason why is a complete mystery to me, other than he seems to let them do whatever they want. I've seen him click through only one of the 21 powerpoints shown at staff meetings (so far) and present/facilitate nothing. The Big Cheese is content to sit back and let the ass't admin (a post unto himself) and the interns handle things. There is no clue as to his vision or ability to be an instructional leader. It frightens me to hear teachers at the school say they want to find a principal just like him when this one retires at the end of the year. It reminds me of bad parenting, in a way. What kid doesn't like the cool permissive parent on the block? Maybe the ones who understand what supportive parenting can look like.

Anyway, I'll meet with this person at some point in the near future about my evaluation process for the year. Since the Big Cheese is not very forthcoming about his motives or expectations, I am wondering what to expect this year. He doesn't care that his staff isn't intellectually curious. He doesn't support collaboration or active inquiry about what happens in the classroom. He isn't interested in accountability for supporting the learning of all students. During the first six weeks of school, I have seen him exactly one time...for 2 0r 3 minutes as he wandered through a classroom. Neither he nor the other admins are ever in the hallways or otherwise visible.

As far as I have come in my 16+ years in the classroom, I know that I can always be better and do more for kids. But how will the evaluative process this year help me grow as a professional when there is no modeling by administration, no plan for staff development, and no expectations for engaging in any sort of improvement? Do I dare ask the Big Cheese how he plans to support my goals in implementing best practices in grading and looking for ways to get some interventions going in my classroom for kids who are in danger of not meeting the standards? I have a feeling that his plan will just to be invisible and let me do my thing. Is that really good enough?


Clix said...

I have a feeling that his plan will just to be invisible and let me do my thing. Is that really good enough?

In your case, it probably is! :D

If I were your principal, I'd try to give you whatever support you asked for, but beyond that, there are probably other fires that need to be put out, and I'd trust you to take care of your own. :)

Hugh O'Donnell said...

SG, I have a good friend who retired last year from our district (special ed. admin via social studies). One of the brightest guys I've had the privilege to know, and gutsy too. We commercial fished in the 70s together, got into rock climbing, sport fished, and generally had some fun times. In the late sixties he worked his way through the University of Chicago as a "hotshot" and smokejumper for the US Forest Service.

Whenever he was confronted with the situation you are describing, his standard remark (and unfortunately, "standard" indicates lots of opportunity to use it) was, "Well, I guess that's good enough for government work."

A little cynicism mixed with a little fatalism.

Without exemplary and committed leadership at the top, it's hard to hold Big Cheeses accountable.

I guess that's why "It's good enough..."

You will probably be on your own.

But hey, supporting a doctoral candidate could be an easy win the the Cheese, if he's smart enough to see that.

Hugh aka Repairman

The Science Goddess said...

I have no doubt that all of this will be good enough for him...it just bothers me that he doesn't care about what is good enough for me.

How am I supposed to seriously buy in to his opinion of my classroom when he shows no skills as an instructional leader?

Hugh O'Donnell said...

You probably scare the crap out of him.

For a principal conditioned to responding to teachers who appreciate him more the less they see of him, you're a professional anomaly! ;)