0019: No Time to be a Principal said the Overwhelmed Principal
I’ve had several discussions with principals who are absolutely overwhelmed. No longer are the building administrators. Thy are building reporters spending a majority of their time collecting data to report to central offices and the state. This collected data is not, for many, being used. It’s simply a routine report to ensure schools are “performing up to snuff.” So, that’s huge blocks of time that a principal is not in the building doing “principal things”. Some principals delegate tasks to other office staff and teachers, others flounder. Many modern principals are performing tasks that they are not completely prepared to do. And, they’re stretched too thin. They’re meetinged to death, and aren’t gaining anything from their meetings.
Data collection is a good thing. Collecting data and not knowing what to do with it is another. Many administrators do not know what to do with all of the information they’re gathering. They simply are taking it, and delivering to someone higher up, and waiting for an answer. Data, from my vantage is being used as a punitive measure against teacher and principals, and ultimately districts. It should, of course, be used to guide instruction and other activities. Someone needs to take the time to help these folks catch up. I don’t know how to do that, except to lend a hand when I can and try to subtly teach those around and above me how. It’s a matter of critical thinking, and administrators simply aren’t being given the time or the opportunity to be critical; rather, they’re in a constant fight for their jobs and sanity. And, as always, shit rolls downhill. The students are the ultimate injured party in this terrible bureaucracy. Critical teachers engage your administrators in critical discourse. We all depend on it.