All summer long I have been reflecting on the previous school year. Last year was full of ups and downs, highs and lows, good and bad. But overall, I would say it was more successful than not.
I’m blessed to be the principal at a school with some very good teachers. We have a good mix of experience – some teachers are close to retirement and some are just starting out. They all have different styles. They all have their routines. They all have different strengths and weaknesses. However, some are set in their ways and don’t like any new ideas, initiatives, suggestions, or constructive criticism.
As I reflect on the previous year, I keep thinking of one comment that one of my veteran teachers said to me one day. It was during a conversation we were having about getting and using data from six weeks assessments. I had put into place a new way of organizing data that the teachers collect each six weeks and she didn’t like it. She let me know about it too. She didn’t see the benefits; all she thought was that it was one more thing she had to do.
Then she said it. She said that I had lost all sense of reality! I didn’t know what it was like to be a teacher anymore. There was too much extra “stuff” that I put on them.
Had I lost all sense of reality? I just can’t get this comment out of my mind. I know that to her, what I was asking was “just one more thing” she had to do. To her the reasons didn’t matter. She didn’t see the benefits. All she saw was more work.
In looking back now, I should have gone about the entire process differently. I should have involved the teachers more. I should have communicated my expectations better and more clearly. I thought I had done these things, but, based on this teacher’s comment, it was obvious that I hadn’t. Although that one comment really hit me hard, what it really did was open my eyes to how I handle situations like this in the future. And for that I owe her a lot.
Each teacher will have a different personality, teaching style, and work ethic. They will have different needs. Some need to just be left alone because what they are doing, they are doing well. Others need to be monitored very closely because on any given day what they are doing may not be working. But what they all need is for me to communicate my expectations better and more clearly. If I do this everybody will all be on the same page from the start.
And maybe, just maybe, this teacher and all teachers will see that I have not lost all sense of reality?