I’ve worked for sixteen years in schools. I’ve read the research that says principals need to be the instructional leader of the school. I watched principals try to be that person, but it seems that they get buried with other duties. My principal this year is able to be the instructional leader.
Why is he different?
The easy answer is he is amazing. The more complex answer is he has a School Administration Manager(SAM) and uses it. I am lucky enough to be his SAM. My job includes a list of things that principals do. I have worked with facilities to put up temporary walls and coordinated moves. The secretaries know to ask can I help that person because the principal is in the classroom observing teachers. If you think of something a principal does that does not directly relate back to instruction, I probably do it. I love spending the time scheduling his week so he sees all of the quality instruction that occurs in our classrooms.
My favorite part of the day is sitting and reflecting on his impact on instruction. We walk through his day and plan for follow-up. I also share data and ask reflecting questions. Even if time is pressed, I ask him how did he impact instruction and what feedback do I need to schedule. I also know enough about his professional journey that I send him selected reading that I think will impact his growth. Right now, I am recommending that he and anyone else who enjoyed The Power of Habit read Top Dog.
I believe he spends the majority of the day working with instruction because I help lift the load and he trusts that I will.
In a perfect world, every principal will have me. Unfortunately, that won’t happen. So every principal needs a SAM. If that won’t work, they need a person on their staff to be his/her mirror to help them reflect on the day.