Wednesday, January 19, 2011

If You Could Build An Administrator

I have the very unique opportunity to be part of an entirely new faculty at a brand new intermediate school opening in my district this year. Since last year we have been asked to ponder the possibilities and think about how we would like this school to move us forward with how we teach and how we view our students as learners.

The next phase in this process is the selection of the principal, and today we were asked to share our thoughts on the qualities we would like to see in our new principal. That got me thinking. What are the qualities I most value in administrator? What are the qualities that would best help me grow as a teacher and learner? After some thought, I came up with this list of qualities and possible questions I would ask for each one:

Quality 1: Uses Technology - I need a principal who uses technology to develop professionally
Question 1: How do you use social media / online networking to develop your personal PLN? Which blog do you read or what one person do you follow on Twitter that you feel is most influential for your personal growth?

Topic 2: Understands Instruction with Technology - I need a principal who is familiar with how technology can really be used to help students learn, not just technology as glorified worksheets
Question 2: How do you see teachers utilizing technology in the classrooms at our new school to prepare our students for their lives today and the lives they will lead in the future?

Topic 3: Being Present Our Classrooms - I need a principal who comes to my classroom because he or she wants to see what's going not just because principals have to do observations
Question 3: How often should a principal be in the classrooms? With such a large building how to do propose you will make yourself a positive presence in the school for all of our students?

Topic 4: Supportive of Risk-Taking / Creativity / Thinking Outside the Box - I need a principal who supports and encourages all of these things and then helps teachers reflect upon their teaching
Question 4: A teacher (or team of teachers) approaches you with an idea of how they would like to change instruction based on what they have learned through their PLNs. This is a very different method of teaching, nobody else in the district is doing anything like it, and the teachers cannot currently say whether it will increase test scores. These teachers feel very strongly that this change is a sound teaching / learning strategy that will work for their kids. How do you handle this situation?

Topic 5: Able to Handle Difficult Situations - I need a principal who is able to make difficult decisions and is willing to support teachers in difficult situations (parent situations would be one example)
Question 5: Reflecting upon and learning from each day helps us to continue to grow as teachers and administrators. Tell about a difficult situation you had to handle during your time as an administrator that, upon reflection, you feel you may not have handled as well as you could have. What could you do differently the next time you were faced with this difficult situation?

Topic 6: Transparency - I need a principal who does not play games and is open and honest with everybody at all times.
Topic 6: The faculty of our new school has been working very hard to make connections and learn how to have difficult conversations. How will you continue to foster this community while encouraging its members to be transparent and have open, honest, difficult conversations when needed?

I'll throw this out to you. What do you believe are some of the qualities you need in an administrator to be able to grow as a learner and a leader?

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