I’m in a unique position as an educator. During my 7 years teaching at my current school, I’ve had 5 principals. It isn’t that the position is cursed, but that our principals go on to do even greater things. However, going through these frequent changes has turned me into a skeptic and a pessimist. That is something that needs to change. I realized that though this year has been UBER tough for me, it must be just as hard (maybe even harder) for my newest principal. I came across this post on a blog archive for principals and administrators. It talks about three things that need to be reciprocated in order for the working environment to remain positive. I was quick to blame administration when reading the first one but by the time I got to the last word, I had to point the finger at me.
The word that hit me the most was: Praise. I don’t think I’ve ever doled out the gold stars for anything my principal has done. BUT here’s the thing, I don’t think any other previous principal cared about students as much as my current principal does. He honestly wants the school to be a GREAT place to learn, grow and belong. He has so much passion for improving Deaf education. He puts so much time and effort into establishing practices that will have long-term impact. He’s excellent at getting other administrators to see his viewpoint and he spends a ridiculous amount of time having important conversations with the heads above to ensure that our department is not forgotten. He’s often at school before I am and sometimes still there when I leave. I have even gotten an email or two way into the midnight hours; I’m sure he spends those hours, after his kids go to bed, trying to catch up on e-mails. He knows what it’s like to be a student in those halls and he knows that he has teachers who are able to rise to the occasion. But I wonder if he’s ever heard a word of praise from us (and not just on administrator’s day).
Being a principal or administrator is not an easy job. In fact, I don’t ever want the position. There are a wide variety of personalities to manage. There’s the push and pull between what the district administrators want and what teachers are able to do. There are parents who want what’s best for their individual student, while my principal has to keep the entire student body at heart. There is an ever changing list of legal mandates that interfere with expanding our vision. There is a community that constantly needs to be taught what it is we do at our school. The list is endless. I tip my hat off to our principal who manages to do the unimaginable with grace and humility.
It’s time my principal knew that though we may have developed a quiet tension between us, I honestly do believe we have a mutual respect for each other. There may be times we don’t agree but standing with my hands on my hips will not sway the mountain. I think if we can succeed at praise, then trust is not far behind.