Saturday, May 15, 2010

Principal X: Developing

Well, it's been a fun year with Principal X. (Not really.) But let's face it: Principals have tough jobs too. I try to be a generous critic. So I'm going to list some of the good things that Principal X did at the Morton School this year:
  • Instituted more teacher-led professional development (previously, there was little to none of this).
  • Kept grades together for lunch periods (sounds like a small thing, but I think it made a big difference).
  • Helped students launch two new community service projects.
  • Hosted parent breakfasts for parents who have a hard time making it to PTA meetings in the evenings.
  • Planned professional development across the curriculum rather than just focusing on reading and math.
  • Kept appointments with members of the school consultation committee.
But, if I were rating Principal X under the new teacher evaluation system, I think s/he would still only rate a Developing. Why?
  • Teachers were evaluated and often criticized for not doing things for which they had explicitly and repeatedly requested training that they did not get.
  • Principal X cannot give a compliment to save his/her life.
  • Principal X's relationship with Miss AP is rapidly and obviously degenerating into total and mutual hatred.
  • Principal X has often undermined teachers' attempts to discipline students and does not follow the DOE Discipline Code, meaning that too many students are getting away with too much.
Where does this leave my relationship with Principal X? Honestly, I know there are some true nightmare principals out there and mine isn't one of them. And since I (painfully) remember my first year of teaching and can rattle off a list dozens deep of mistakes I made during my first year, I'm going to give Principal X the benefit of the doubt.

But in order for PX to get any better, s/he has got to become a better leader to the teachers. I don't think any teacher at the Morton School feels like PX appreciates them or recognizes their efforts. I said to a colleague the other day that our other colleagues would be much more forgiving of PX, given the very real challenges PX has had to face, if PX weren't so relentlessly critical of us.

So that's where we stand with exactly six weeks of school left. I suppose Developing means that PX can keep the job for next year but needs to do some reflecting and retraining. That sounds about right.