The Perfect Principal - Mary Poppins' Style
The Perfect Nanny
The teacher who feels respected and valued by her principal in the current education climate is a rare bird, and often an object of envy from teacher acquaintances at other schools who have no such luck with their fearless leaders.
I know that my #1 priority when looking for a teaching job is reasonable proximity, but quality of the principal is a close second. What is a quality principal, though? What would make my list for The Perfect Principal?
Here's a tribute to wishing for The Perfect Principal, sung (more or less) to the tune of "The Perfect Nanny" from Mary Poppins.
Actually, the qualifications for The Perfect Nanny are almost completely compatible with a Perfect Principal and a Perfect Teacher, but here's another version anyway:
The Perfect Principal
If you want this choice position
Please ignore all booty kissin’
Must be sane, sincere
No games, no fear
Avoid cliches and trendy jargon
they will cause our hearts to harden
Really like children - let it show
Don’t lie - we’ll know
Never treat us as cogs; never use us as scapegoats, or dogs
Don’t make us write a “Goals Statement”
We can’t take that much abasement
If you don’t try to intimidate us
We’ll be loyal as thralls of Bacchus
We love teaching kids, but we have our lives, too
We don’t want to live in an eternal school
Hurry Leader, come our way
Teachers of the USA
If you could craft your own Perfect Principal letter, what would be in it? I especially would like to hear from people who work for great principals - what makes them great?
I contacted the best boss I ever had, Keith Cartwright, and asked him about his boss philosophy.
I'd work for half the current teacher rate to work for this guy again.
On Being "The Boss"
My philosophy on being the boss is one that is very different from many of today's bosses, and it is a growing difference. Being the boss means I'm in charge of the mission/vision and goals of the organization I work for or own.
Many people today hear boss and think of someone in charge of people, but a boss is going to be very ineffective with people if he doesn’t have a passion or a clue about the mission of the organization. Which leads to my next point: Define the role. I lead people - I don't boss them.
If I have a clear understanding of where I want the organization to go (as defined by the organization itself, not the boss), I have to, as boss, be able to help those under me understand where they fit in that process, and help them always understand they are a critical piece of that process.
There are times people need motivation and inspiration along that trail, and there are other times they need gently pulled back on the trail because they've started to blaze one that doesn't fit the mission/vision. But they always need to hear from the boss.
What most people call a boss today, I used to call a leader. Today, though, many (if not most) bosses have no clue about leadership, which is why so many of our organizations are in trouble. The biggest challenge for all leaders is understanding that the success of the organization is based on how well "you" do, not how well "I" do.
As leaders, we tend to think we know how to do it best and can forget to sink our energies into others. We forget to solicit ideas and input from others.
The number one thing I always want people to think of me in terms of a boss is that I am more interested in their success than I am my own. If I can do that, I know I have a good organization. It's a lot like life, really.
Can you imagine if every human being today made it a goal to go out today and be more consumed with their neighbors’ success than their own? It's a pretty good model.