Thursday, January 19, 2012

"The principal should be your pal."

Yesterday, to my mind, was a starting point in figuring out msk's next school. We had a meeting with a professional who's helping us. In the midst of trying to plan for msk's educational future, I said how happy we were with the principal at his current school. I went on to say how crucial that's turned out to be in schools where msk has done well. She vigorously agreed and we moved on. It made me think about doing a post on the concept.

Having an excellent principal makes so much difference on the day to day educational experiences msk has, and to the contrary in schools that he's had problems... but let's keep on the positive side. A great principal energizes and motivates teachers. You can feel it every time you talk to them - how lucky they feel to be at this specific school. With a miserable principal, teachers can still be excellent and motivated towards their students, but they continually fight (either openly or more often covertly) to do what they know they need to do to have an excellent classroom experience for their students. And not every teacher is that excellent. For them, the quality of the principal makes all the difference. A poor principal has them focusing on the wrong things - things that have no positive impact on students. I've seen incredible cruelty and disinterest by teachers when they spend all their time and energy trying to figure out how to make points with a despotic principal. And you shouldn't undervalue the general school atmosphere - joy leads to learning, while misery leads to yelling, in my experience.

Joy just flows flow in some classrooms
I have no idea how you could objectively rate principals any more than how you could objectively rate teachers. I do know that it will be one of the big things we will be looking at as we try to find msk's next school.

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