On June 30th, I tweeted four “Admin Pledges” that hopefully provide some insight into what I stand for and how I want to support my teachers as their assistant principal.
Admin Pledge #1: I will never say to a teacher “You need to raise your test (BOY, MOY, EOC/STAAR, SCA, etc) scores”
The amount of testing our students are subjected to is absolutely ridiculous. What might even be more absurd is the amount of time that is then spent ranking and sorting the students (all with the underlying belief that these tests are somehow the end-all and be-all of learning). This is not the fault of the teachers; they have been directed and pressured to do this. I will not be a source of this pressure. I will continue to focus on the real learning, not the superficial stuff that is easily measured. I am comfortable with the messiness of true learning.
Admin Pledge #2: Feedback will never just be a checklist form (unless for some reason you asked me to do it)
If all I have to offer you is feedback around how many kids had their heads down during my time in your room, then I really shouldn't be in your class. And who am I to decide which students are truly ‘engaged’ and which students are just complying mindlessly to the rules, especially without even talking with the students? I want to be in classrooms to experience the learning and get a feel for the overall climate and culture. I want to provide feedback to the teacher on what they want me to focus on. There are plenty of things I can look for and measure. A checklist to prove I've “done my job” will not be one of them.
Admin Pledge #3: I will challenge you to read a lot, to blog/tweet about your learning, and to care more about the kids than ever before.
I probably should have split this into two pledges, or combined the second half with the pledge below, but too late now! There seems to be consensus around the fact that reflection is when the real learning takes place. John Dewey said “We don’t learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.” Therefore it is my job to help facilitate this reflection. I don’t expect my teachers to blindly trust me of the transformative nature of blogging and tweeting, but that simply means I will do everything I can to demonstrate and showcase the power that social media can bring to teaching and learning.
Admin Pledge #4: If we’re not having fun, then we’re doing it wrong. Learning is tough and messy, but that doesn't mean not enjoyable.
There is no reason why, despite the challenges and frustrations that occur with real learning, students and teachers should not enjoy their jobs. I want smiles and laughter in classrooms everyday. If you are miserable (as a teacher) all the time, then perhaps there is another profession for you, and one that takes you as far away from kids as possible. All students deserve to have a teacher that not only understands how students really learn, but one that creates a classroom environment that does not extinguish the desire to learn.