Friday, July 13, 2007

Principal Teachers Needed; Pendulum Swinging Back

Did you ever wonder how the "principal" got to be your "pal," as the spelling trick goes? A synonym for it is "head teacher." There, that should help.

Once upon a time in American public (and private) schools, perhaps a century or so ago, the principal was the first among teachers, the principal teacher. This person earned the position through (usually) his facility in classroom teaching. Then times changed, and so did principals--into disciplinarians, managers, executives, and businessmen. We had reached the full arc of the pendulum when No Child Left Behind Act became law. Even according to S.C. Deputy Superintendent Mark Bounds, "In the last decade, the job of principal has really shifted away from simply being a building manager." Well.

Evidence of yet another effect of NCLB is the finding reported in last Tuesday's P & C of the Southern Regional Education Board. The SREB reviewed South Carolina's present education of principals and found it lacking in progress toward "changing principal training programs to highlight classroom instruction" in comparison to 15 other southern states. The study calls for major "revamping" of the State's curriculum.
Emphasis is shifting to effective classroom teaching. What will they think of next?


Anonymous said...

Dr. Francis was a the fairly successful principal at Burke from 2003-2005. He was one of those old style leaders who would try to schedule a math class with him as the teacher every other year. He said it kept him up on where the students were. He said teach a class put him on a par with the math teachers and he just liked being able to stay sharpe on his original area of study. He said it also gave him a better perspective as a principal to see the challenges from a teacher's position in the classroom. More than anyone else I ever talked to, he seemed to be able to identify exactly were each student's academic problems began and what Burke had to do the fix them. But just as he learned all that, CCSD decided they didn't need him in there anymore and they replaced him.

Babbie said...

I wish I had known Dr. Francis too. The principals I have known that also always taught at least one class have been the better advocates for teachers and students. It seems like that isn't always what superintendents want. Most of them want to be told how great they are & how great their ideas are. It's the rare superintendent (or principal) who has the self-confidence to ask for different opinions.