The Great Administration
March 22, 2019
The Head of School, Principal, Assistant Principal, and Instructional Coaches assume their position after a long teaching apprenticeship in which they master classroom management, curricular content, and pedagogical delivery. During this time, they were deeply invested in their school community, taking on staff leadership roles and developing strong bonds with students and their families.
Their experiences helped them understand that teachers are the backbone of any successful school. Thus, hiring and grooming great educators is the most important part of their job. Having spent eight to ten years in the classroom, they are abundantly aware: Mastering the delivery of Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, and Mathematics is a nearly impossible task for a generalist teacher. With this understanding, they give their teachers manageable job descriptions so they can work towards mastery of their trade.
They provide ample professional development for their teachers, leading their areas of expertise and deferring to experts for that which they’re less familiar. When they’re not presenting, they sit through trainings along with their staff. During the school year, they frequently observe lessons and occasionally demonstrate them.
These administrators see their school as an ecosystem with complex, symbiotic relationships. Understanding that all adults in the school – board members, paraprofessionals, classroom teachers, parent volunteers, specialist teachers, lunch ladies, custodians, etc. - are an important person in their students’ lives, they work hard to foster intergenerational relationships. They might give the Chief Financial Officer lunch duty, assign the custodian to monitor recess once/week, or encourage an administrative assistant to mentor an emotionally disturbed child. Because the administrator appreciates the contributions of every adult in the school, they understand that individual value is impossible to quantify. Therefore, they don’t believe in merit-based pay.
Although they are administrators, their central focus is children and they make great efforts to know them and their families. They might not be the same ethnicity or social class as their students’ families, but they are always a part of the same community. They often live close to their school’s neighborhood and thus reflect the community at large. Those who don’t live nearby still visit frequently and are recognized as both school and community advocates.
Their relationships with parents range from friendships to respectfully cordial, but never political. Avoiding the latter allows them to dictate school policy. Understanding that no single person – regardless of their wealth, power, or prestige - is bigger than the school, they are always willing to sacrifice individual interests for the good of the institution.