Get up son it’s the first day of school.
I not going …
It’s the first day, you have to go.
Mom, the kids make fun of me, the teachers don’t listen to me, I
don’t want to go!
You have to go, you’re the principal.
Whether a first year teacher or a grizzled veteran you toss and turn the night before that first reporting day.
As the staff rolls into the building the culture of the building ignites. Claques
re-form: the car poolers from the burbs, the mothers whose primary concern is
day care for their own kids, the cynical “old timers,” the “bright-eyed” newcomers, all mingle awaiting the “words of wisdom” from the school leader.
In New York City supervisors have been in school for a week planning and getting the building ready. Scrambling to fill vacancies, should I hire that ten year math teacher from the ATR pool? Why was he excessed? Was there some “problem”? Can a first year teacher handle a self-contained Special Ed class? And, those “new” initiatives: this year “frequent cycles of brief observations
with meaningful feedback,” utilizing the Danielson Frameworks, (the
updated 2011 edition) and beginning to implement the Common Core State
The school leader asks: How can I convince, motivate and engage the staff?
How can I inform, collaborate and lead?
The GB Shaw story: Shaw was moderating a panel and he warned the speaker he had fifteen minutes, the speaker responded, “I’m an expert, I know a great
deal, how can I tell all I know in fifteen minutes?” Shaw responded, “Speak slowly.”
As the teachers gather for the first meeting: will they be sitting on the edge of
their seats hungering for the words of wisdom? Or, surreptitiously filling out
the football pool or texting?
This is the first time in years that the Department and the Union
are somewhat on the same wave length. The Department is asking each school to
work on implementing at least one of the Common Core State Standards in ELA and Math and the Union is emphasizing the need to develop curriculum to support the standards.
The Department and the Union seem agreed upon the use of the Danielson Frameworks as the evaluation tool.
Schools, with the support of the Union, have been encouraged to create common planning time for staff. Will supervisors be able to move from the role of the administrator who mechanically observes teachers a few times a year to a “critical friend” who engages in “frequent cycles of brief observations with meaningful feedback”?
Will common planning time evolve into “bitch” sessions or discussions of
instructional practices centered on student needs?
On one hand the Union is in court over regulations governing the new teacher
evaluation system, the teacher contract expired in November 2009 and no new
contract is on the horizon, the Mayor jabs at the Union president every chance
he gets, yet, on the education side Tweed and the Union are putting their toes
in the same water, edging towards a more collaborative school system.
As the queasiness disappears and the bright, eager faces show up on September 8th another school year will begin; very little from the top, except the threats of
school closings based on test scores usually filters down to the classroom.
Do the “middle managers,” the principals and the assistant principals,
have the skills to engage teachers, to both collaborate and lead?
This year maybe, just maybe, the leadership and the troops are on a similar wave