6.17.2010

Principals

Beginning now, my school has a new principal. It was a little odd how it all happened. back in February, a principal quit, right then and there at another school. So, because one person quit, they moved about 15 people. The principal I had was moved to another site and we are getting a new principal whose school won't be in existence next year. While most people at the site were visibly upset, I didn't share in their pity. It's not that I didn't care for the principal, but I am learning principals are a dime a dozen. I've decided I am not going to call them by name, but rather by number. In my 13 years of teaching, this will be my 8th principal. And, that doesn't count the one who hired me and then left before the school year even started!

In my district, principals are changed more often than curriculum. And, they can't make just one change, it has to be several changes that affect more than it should. But, I am getting used to change and am learning to deal with it as it comes.

My first principal was there for just over a year. I really liked him. He was very present at the school, came through each and every day to all the classes and the students knew he was there. Like many administrators, he got a new job in a different district at the beginning of my 2nd school year. Many people were happy to see him go, but I wasn't. I didn't know any better and thought he was great. I'm sure he had his faults, like everyone else, but I liked him. Sadly, he passed away a few years ago.

My second principal was a real jerk. Unfortuantely, many people feel this way about him. I didn't totally realize it at the time, but now I know how horrible of a principal he really was. He is a smooth talker, part of the good 'ole boys club. He can do no wrong - he just passes the blame to the next person. I was still very young when he started at the school. He looked down upon me because I was young, female and blond. He was a male chauvinist with the machismo attitude to boot. He didn't bother to learn my name my first year, he just called me "the blond one" or "la rubia" to another teacher. He left me alone for the most part. He couldn't bother to show up for observations and do an evaluation the 3 years he was my principal! A new teacher came in who had all the education lingo down and dazzled him with his BS, but I didn't buy it. I might have been young, but I know crap when I hear it. I eventually left the school, along with 17 other teachers. Hmmmm, and the district didn't realize there was a problem.

My third principal hired me to go to my new school. She was there for all of 3 months before she moved to a new district. Like the 1st principal, she was there all the time, in the classes everyday. But, she was ADHD and couldn't focus for more than a minute. I never really got to know her, which was bother our faults. I never took the time to talk with her and she never took the time to talk to me.

My fourth, and longest lasting principal, was a teacher I had worked with the year before. She didn't care for me as a colleague, so I was a little nervous with her coming in. (I got drunk the night I heard it was her!). She is a very type A, anal retentive, control freak. Once she started, we got along OK. Each year was different, and you never knew what to expect. I stayed on her good side, did my job and tried not to bitch about things. She didn't care for the male teachers we had and they got some poor evaluations. I was nervous when she evaluated me, but I got all good marks - meets expectations or exceeds expectations, so I couldn't complain too much. She was there 4 years before they moved her to the high school, which was a demotion, really.

My fifth administrator was actually a vice principal we had for a year. I loved her to death. She was very hands on with the kids, came in and taught lessons and really got to know them. I learned a lot from watching her. She had such a passion for reading and writing. I wish more than anything that I had gotten to work with her more than a year. When I teach, I try so hard to be like her. I want to write her and ask her to come and watch me, tell me what I am doing right and wrong and give me some pointers. She got her own school the next year, and has been at 2 other schools since then. She is a stickler for the rules and standards and the schools she was at don't like to follow the rules. I felt sorry for her when she was at the other schools, but I was doing my own job. She retired this year and is looking to bigger and better things, like all administrators it seems. But, I still try to live up to the standard of teaching that she desired.

My sixth administrator came the last year the school was open. I had actually been involuntarily transferred to a different school (which I hated, but I went into it with a horrible attitude!). I managed to make it back to my old school 6 weeks into the year. My new principal was nice, but I never really got to know her. She came in my room the first day I was there, said hi and then I never saw her in my room again. She liked people who kissed her butt and did what she wanted. I do what principals want, but I don't kiss ass. Never have, never will. She went and took over another school once our school closed. She took half the staff with her (her favorites) and continued on like it was nothing. I was very sad to see my school close, but I wasn't devistated to leave her.

My seventh principal lives in a dream world. He has no real concept of elementary school and especially of what the lower grades do in elementary school. He would ask my kids some of the strangest, way-to-high higher level thinking questions and then chide me for them not knowing the answer. He was also very ADHD and couldn't focus for more than a minute. It was impossible to have a conversation with him. In fact, a co-worker got so mad that he walked away when he was mid-sentence that she threw a marker at him. He told her he was done talking and that she should have been, too. He is very macho (macho-wannabe, actually) and thinks that the women at the site (most of the teachers were women!) were just whiny. But, at the same time, he let a lot of the teachers walk all over him. Many teachers were able to do what they wanted. Other teachers weren't allowed to get away with the same things and his faves. I really tried to like him, but, try as I did, I couldn't. I treated him with respect (which was more than he gave) and did what was asked of me, but I wasn't in the mood to be his friend.

My eighth principal will be starting soon. She has been in the ditrict forever and has been an admin. forever. I think she is on her way to retirement, so I am sure we will have another new principal soon. She seems nice, wants to communicate and keep things pretty much status quo. We'll see how it goes!

From all my different principals, I have learned one thing - they are all different! For some, I think they became principals because teaching wasn't their thing, but what more could they do. I can honestly say I only had one, maybe 2 who truly cared for the kids and how they did. I just remind myself that it will change over time and eventually I will meet number 9!

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