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I am an Administrator

I am an Administrator

Kelly Christopherson

We’re a rare breed, those of us who decide to sit as neither teacher nor central office staff. As schools have progressed over time and grew larger, there became a need, for some reason, for there to be a person who oversaw the whole enterprise at each location, the Head Teacher idea. Some are very good at what they do and, well, some aren’t and really shouldn’t be there but that is no different than any other profession in the world. In fact, if you were to look, there are many people who don’t particularly like their superiors – btw I didn’t google this but kind of gleaned it from reading many issues of Men’s Health and listening to what others say in various social gatherings. Principals, being in that position, usually receive a fair amount of criticism for their decisions and/or intelligence.

Now, as someone who’s been doing this for, well, really, only 10 years, not very long if you think about it but here I am, I have picked up a few things along the way. The one thing that I have come to understand is that unless you have been a principal, you don’t know what you are talking about. Period. You can guess and you can make calculated assumptions but, at the end of the day, you don’t know.

Also, not all principals have no clue about technology or pedagogy or all those other things that they seem not to know anything about. Here’s my example from what I do right now. I sit as a vice-principal in a 8 – 12 high school. It’s not large by US standards but it’s a decent size. There are 3 of us in our team – two of whom teach about 50% each. So, we have 2 full time bodies. This is my first year in the school and any ideas I had of making changes in the way of classroom innovations or such went out the window on day 3. The first 2 were in service days. Why? Because reality smacked me upside the head. You see, as a public institution, we can’t pick our students, interview them, ask for a background or whatever some other schools do.

We get whomever comes through the door and we have do work with them, trying to create and provide educational opportunities for them. We also don’t get to select the teachers all the time. You see, as a larger school, we sometimes have teachers assigned to us when they don’t fit in other schools. Yes, read between the lines! Because we are the largest school in our division, there is a sense, real or not, that the school needs to meet certain expectations and achieve at particular levels which aren’t always happening. To add to this, we have a new set of curricula in all our middle years classes that will need to be fully implemented in the next 3 years and new curricula coming for all our senior classes beginning next year and continuing for the next 2 years. Our math program is completely changing next year but we haven’t seen the new curriculum. We also have a few division initiatives in the Reading, Math and Assessment areas plus some real pressure coming for DI across the grade levels. We’re into year 4 of our PLC’s that has really only been moving along for 2. There are also a number of other things, like a new SDS coming online, new financial software that the school and SCC are learning and that’s not including any of the extra-curricular that some of us do.


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