Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Questions to Ask

We had a conversation in my class of aspiring school principals after reading an article entitled The Principal's Priority 1, (Jean Johnson, 2008, Educational Leadership (66)1, 72-6). The article focused on principals' ability to serve as instructional leaders who can help teachers teach more effectively, rather than being consumed by all of the day to day stuff that gets in their way...leaky pipes, misbehaving kids, paperwork, the Pepsi man's here, and all the rest of things that everyone who's ever spent time in the office knows so well. Johnson framed the question this way: Are communities and districts willing to reorganize schools so principals have time for this work? Ask your board member.

That important question prompts a couple others. How much time is your principal spending in your child's classrooms? Ask your principal.

Is the principal in your child's school able to help teachers improve and grow? Ask your child's teacher at conferences.

If your questions are met with uncertainty, "not much," and "not really," start asking them more.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

First Shot

I was a little slow to adopt Facebook. Couldn't quite see the point for a while. Was a little thrown off by the whole concept of "friend" becoming a verb. I had a hard time getting my head around the idea of how my wife was officially becoming "friends" with people she really didn't know very well or had hardly known way back when. Maybe I had a hard time with friend being a verb. Whatever. Though I joined FB and enjoy it, I thought what made more sense was a blog, where I could throw my opinions and ideas around, especially since my wife tells me to keep those things off FB, "because that's not what it's for." So, here's my first foray into blogging. The title of the blog, The Balcony View, comes from one of the main points I try to emphasize with the people who I work with, who aspire to be leaders of schools.

Someone asked me the other day if I was fully ready to start the school year. Told them that I wasn't really, but I would be once things got moving. And that has been the case. At the risk of sounding trite or cliche, there really is something fun about the start of a new school year. Maybe it's a little like the old saying about the start of baseball season, where "hope springs eternal." That should certainly be the case in school. And there is a sense of energy and excitement that comes with it.

A couple of years ago, I started parking in the spots furthest away from the door to my building. The goal was to spend the extra steps thinking about how fortunate I am to get to do what I do--try to play a part in people become better teachers, leaders, and educators. For the most part, I've held to using the extra steps to do that.

So, in the days to come, more thoughts.