Lead or Manage? Which will a principal be left to do in our current educational state? It seems as though principals are often faced with situations such as dealing with facilities, returning parent phone calls, dealing with disciplinary issues, or other pressing issues that take us away from our true focus: Learning and Teaching. In order to make those areas a focus, school administrators must be savvy in curriculum, instruction, and current educational research and practice.
Additionally, to insure that those areas are fully addressed, a school administrator must be dilligently visible in classrooms and work in planning, implementing, and reviewing curriculum and assessment planning with classroom teachers.
With all those demands then, how does one attend to that most important work? Professionally, I have found that it can be easy to get drawn into the minutia and demands of “management” type tasks that could easily take my time from being in classrooms, coaching and evaluating teachers, and truly making sure that curriculum and assessment are delivered based on current, best practice. During the current school year (2007-2008), I and other administrators have made a concerted effort to be in classrooms on a daily basis, providing feedback to teachers both formally (evaluation) and informally (carbon feedback sheets). In my building, I have hired half day substitute teachers to cover classrooms while teachers and I collaboratively work to map out curriculum per semester across all content areas. In the upcoming year, we will develop, if not already done, formative assesements at each grade level for the curriculum that was mapped out for each content area each semester.
When does the other “stuff” get done you ask? I use time before and after school to do some work and additionally, I do some in the evening when possible. I also do quick three minute walk throughs which enable me to get into all classrooms and input the data I observe into a PDA which tracks trends across the school. Ultimately, however, an administrator will have to walk a fine line to manage all that is required of them. Please feel free to comment and provide your thoughts on educational leadership and school management.