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Archive for June, 2009

Over the past couple of years I’ve listened to a series of essays on National Public Radio called “This I Believe.”  These are short statements about each person’s view on life, written in the first person and narrated by the author. This series is based on the radio series of the same name hosted in the 1950’s by Edward R. Murrow. You can learn more about This I Believe by visiting their website. Essays have been written by people from every walk of life, young and old, famous and not. Some are funny, some quite serious. All are fascinating for the snapshop they give of a person’s view on life.

As a teacher, I’ve always thought this would be a compelling writing exercise for students. But as a Latin teacher, it hasn’t quite fit into the curriculum of grammar, reading, and ancient culture.  Recently I was pleased to learn that our high school has assigned this essay to all seniors in their English classes.  The essays selected by their peers as their favorites were recorded and posted at This I Believe-RMHS. I invite you all to listen to our students’ essays and please comment if you’d like.

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This year has been all about change for me. I’ve implemented technology in my classes in an entirely new way, I’ve expanded my professional network to include hundreds of educators from around the world, and I’ve started to see myself as more of a leader in my department and perhaps in my district. I have been more active in sharing what I’m doing, in teaching others how to use the tools that improve my teaching, and collaborating with others in my building, district, and other schools. To cap it all off, at the end of this school year both an assistant principal and the principal of my high school are leaving our school.  I have worked well with both of them and I know I will not be the only one to miss their guidance in the future. This year is all about change. As we look to the future, several people have asked me my opinion, specifically about the leadership of our school.

What do I look for in a principal?

  • Have a clear vision of what you want this school to be – in a year, in five years, in a decade – and articulate that for all to hear. It is much easier to stand by someone when you know where they are headed.
  • Lead the faculty, the students, and the community to achieve your vision.
  • Listen to your faculty, particularly those who have been around a while. Just because something has always been done “that way” doesn’t mean it should continue. But if you know what “that way” is, it makes changing it easier.
  • Listen to the students. This is their home for four years and they have certain expectations of how they will be treated and what they will be allowed to do. Taking away privileges or adding new requirements without their in-put certainly won’t make anyone’s job easier.
  • Allow teachers to teach; this is what we do best. Please don’t add new responsibilities or duties to our already full schedules. Let us spend as much time with our students as we can.
  • Let us soar. Allow teachers and students to take the tools that we have and use them to best benefit our students and the community. Don’t block us from websites or forbid the use of cell phones without understanding how these tools can work effectively in the classroom.

We are a good school now. Help us to become a better school in the future. Please recognize the good things that are already here and don’t just focus on the negatives that need to be changed. There will be critics and there will be supporters. And there will be many people looking to our new principal for guidance and leadership. I hope that whoever this new leader will be is as excited and optimistic for the future as I am.

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