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A Matter of Principle


Q6 of Assistive Principles was recently denied the chance to teach an AP Lit class at his high school because it would take time away from his administrative duties as an assistant principal. This is ironic, he says, for a number of reasons:

One, the term "principal" in education has its roots in the schoolhouses of old. There may have been more than one teacher, but one was considered the top dog—or, more accurately, the principal teacher, which is where we get the term. Whatever idiot eventually decided to move this position out of the classroom altogether clearly wanted his own office, little interaction with students, and premium dental insurance.
Two, I think the only real way for administrators to truly have their fingers on the pulses of their schools is to be on the front lines and in the classrooms themselves. Anything less, and we're seriously shortchanging the students.

He adds that he wants to get back into the classroom as soon as he can afford to do so.


In independent schools, the head of the school once was the Headmaster... or, like the principal teacher, the head master... Now, many schools have a Head of School rather than a Headmaster... I agree that the only way, however, to really understand what's going on is to spend time in the classroom... as a teacher...

I agree with Amanda. When I was in high school my assistive principle did not know any of the student's names or ever even try to relate to the students. No one respected him and know one really wanted to do what he said. I think for an assistive principle to teach a class is a great way for that person to get to know their students. He\she can better understand some of the issues going on in school and the students will be more willing to listen and obey if he\she is showing an interest.

Administrators, like teachers, are being asked to do more and more. If test scores are not what is expected then THEY are blamed. If there are discipline problems that are above what is expected then THEY are blamed. How does one effectively administer a school and still spend time in the classroom teaching? Why does the current asst. principal want back into the classroom? Perhaps it is because the life of an administrator is not so good. What about teachers spending part of their day in administration? Both have equally difficult and challenging responsibilities. Just because an administrator is not teaching does not mean that he/she is not understanding and knowledgable about teacher issues.

Congratulations to an administrator who realizes the value of being involved in the education of his students. The best companies are those where upper management stays in touch (ex - Southwest Airlines). If, however, the resistance he's getting is because of time away from his administrative duties, perhaps a modified approach would work. Could he "co-teach" or be a guest lecturer in this class? In that way he could still particiapate without compromising the duties required for each position.

In my perfect world, an administrator would to an administrative leave every five years and teach a class for one year so they could stay in touch with the demands and expectations of teaching a class. During the past ten years the expectations of a constantly changing curriculum, additional assessments, disciplining an increasing number of behavioral problems, etc. have changed drastically. The administration keeps asking us to do more without additional planning time or accommodations. I believe if they had to teach a class with all the responsibilities, they would make their expectations more realistic.

I think that administrators teaching classes is an awesome idea. I have worked for more principals that have taught a total of 3 years (the minimum required by the states)and then moved into administration. I don't care how much research you do and how many books you read, the entire impact of life as a teacher can only truly be understood by one who has experienced life in the trenches and long enough to become somewhat expert at it. I commend those teachers who have had to sit through inservice after inservice with a principal telling them how to teach when everyone knows they never spent much time in the classroom. I think that all administrators should be teaching with some sort of rotation. I agree with the 5 year thing. Even one class a year would refresh their memories of the multitude of tasks one faces in a classroom today. I find that the less time an administrator spends in the classroom, the more paperwork they heap on teachers. I am preparing to take my state administration test in 2 weeks. My biggest fear is that I will lose touch with the real issues of the teachers once I cross the line. My goal is to always remember that I serve the students AND the teachers.

Not only should ALL administrators teach but they should be required to go back to the classroom and teach in their certification area for 1 year out of every 5 that they are an administrator---while still retaining their administrative pay. This will keep them in touch with reality and help them require only realistic things of the teachers such as ensuring planning periods and duty free lunch as well as working toward duty free duty and not requiring written lesson plans from experienced teachers. It would probably also make them less likely to terminate for political or social reasons or demand that a teacher stay in the classroom without a bathroom break. In other words, walking in our shoes would make them show respect. If a system is stupid enough to hire a non-educator as an administrator that person should work as a co-teacher or even a paraprofessional so they won't damage the children.

Prinicipals and other administrators. should also be expected to substitute in the classes when there are inadequate number of subs available and should rotate as to which class he or she takes and include moderate and severe/profound disabilities and autistic classes in the rotation and sub for the teacher or the paraprofessional. The secretary can run the office, but she cannot teach. Finally, if teachers are not getting planning periods because there is no one to take their class, an administrator should plan to be in the classroom for at least one period every day.

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Recent Comments

  • Rhonda: Not only should ALL administrators teach but they should be read more
  • Robyn: I think that administrators teaching classes is an awesome idea. read more
  • Elizabeth: In my perfect world, an administrator would to an administrative read more
  • Paulette Wagner: Congratulations to an administrator who realizes the value of being read more
  • Herb: Administrators, like teachers, are being asked to do more and read more




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