Right now, this section is about my principles — not just as a principal — but if I were still a teacher, I’d have the same principles. (It’s a catchy, trite phrase for a title, but I couldn’t help myself.) As you add comments to this page and make your own suggestions, I will add them (probably not every one of them — I will have to agree with you, of course) and at some point, I will change the title to Principals’ Principles to show that we’re generally reaching consensus. If you visit Teachers’ Letters to Obama on Facebook, you will find Principle #1, #2, and so on. Generally the principles on Facebook are more specific than what I’m thinking of at this point in time. At some point, after we have identified the problems caused by school reform and the problems with American K-12 education in general, I will ask you to offer solutions. Once that happens, we will use these principles to guide us in making good decisions. Read below for the kind of principles I mean.
Principle 1: Begin with the End in Mind (see Goals of American K-12 Education)
Principle 2: All children must be provided the opportunities and resources that will allow them to reach their potential.
Principle 3: With Principle 2 in mind, the school reform movement must also insist upon, and then protect, a challenging, meaningful curriculum for children who are being successful in school. NCLB has unintentionally accomplished just the opposite for these kinds of students. (See my first post.)
Principle 4: A teacher has one priority: to make certain that his or her students are learning the academic concepts that ensure that they will be successful in the next grade. No principal should allow the glittering lights of acclaim (getting an excelling label) to distract him or his teachers from their number one priority. (See my first post.)
Principle 6: Keep your solutions and changes simple. Small, incremental change is best. (Consider starting with a few teachers, not the entire staff.) First, identify all stakeholders and anticipate what possible effects the change may have on all of them. Collaborate with your staff and get their feedback before proceeding. Tweak before implementation. Set a date that you will formally review the impact of the change.
Principal 7: After making the change, listen carefully to the feedback. Tweak immediately. Be responsive to your staff. When the date set for assessment arrives, be honest. Do the benefits outweigh the negative consequences? Should you continue tweaking — or is it time to toss? Ask your staff for honest and direct feedback. Listen to them and then act. Don’t blame. Accept responsibility if things went wrong. You were the one who made the decision — whether it was your idea or it came from the staff — you gave the final okay.
Principle 8: Add your thoughts!