Being a newly appointed principal has provided me with a short window of time during which I am doing a sort of “ethnography” of the school and culture. As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my goals these first few weeks has been to try to gather an understanding of what staff is most proud of and what they’d like to see abandoned or, at least, reconsidered.
Like some other schools with diverse student populations, our students need a variety of supports – both academic and personal – to achieve “proficiency” on state tests. While I’m not a fan of this kind of assessment of our kids or our schools, as a new principal I believe that arguing about the merits of said tests is best left to the policy wonks. It’s the hand we’re dealt for now, and as a new principal I’m focusing first on those things within my control.
So my main objective in the near-term is to support my teachers in wrapping their heads around the idea that student success as measured on our state standardized tests and student success as measured by their ability to communicate, collaborate, and produce content in an interconnected, global community are not mutually exclusive.
When I first landed in the Big Chair, I ramped up my scouring of the blogs of other school leaders. What I found was an abundance of ideas, lists of tools and apps, advice on being a good Tweeter, and the like. I’m certainly guilty of posts like this…
What I’ve become increasingly focused on is moving from ideas and feel-good blog posts to action. One of my goals is to renew my use of this space and to spend time writing and reflecting about my actions in this first year as principal. I want to look at things that I actually do as a new principal that might improve systems, culture, and learning in my school with the goal of cultivating an environment that empowers students to learn and develop their identities as global citizens and world-class learners.
I’ll probably fall on my face. I might do that more than once. But at least I’ll try to maintain a good record of my thoughts and actions and how they play out in this organization. Maybe they’ll even help someone else who is entrusted with the exciting but very real responsibility of being a principal.
Some topics I will be addressing in upcoming posts:
- Re-imagining a culture of meetings
- Developing a manageable system of academic interventions that address students’ individual needs
- Moving a 40-year-old school into the 21st century
- Paring back “initiative bloat”
- Doing my best not to reinforce the status quo
- Quite frankly, anything else that comes to mind…
So stick around. This could get interesting.