My life in blog form

I think I love my new principal

Back to school…back to school…..

It was our first day back to school for day one of our two Superintendent Conference Days.   We have a new principal at the high school, and I think I’m in love…

…with his philosophy (on everything). 

He started our first faculty meeting with this statement: (not exact words, but this is pretty close)

“While teaching in your classroom, you would not appreciate your students doing other things such as reading the newspaper, texting on their cell phones, or doing homework for another class.  Therefore, I expect you to show the same respect in my faculty meetings.  I will not waste your time in these meetings with issues that can be solved on other committees or with trivial information.  All I ask is that you show respect during my time with you.”

Can I tell you, nothing irks me more than a rude teacher, and boy are there plenty of them.  What is it with teachers talking or grading papers during meetings?  We would be offended if our students did the same, yet I think anyone who walked into one of our faculty meetings last year would have been appalled to see the teacher behavior. 

Needless to say, everyone in the meeting put their pens down and looked up.  Nice start!

His three expectations for his teachers:
1.  Communicate

2.  Be honest

3.  Show respect

Could he just come into my classroom on the first day and relay that to my students?  This guy shares pretty much the exact same philosophy that I do with them on the first day of school! 

Another point I loved:  Don’t use your cell phones in class.

Last year the big complaint was cell phone use in school.  Well I’m sorry, but wouldn’t you consider it a load of crap if you couldn’t use your cell phone at work, but your boss walked by your cubicle daily texting his buddies?  I hear it all the time from students, “Mr. So-and-so texts his friends all the time in the middle of class.”  Or “Mrs. So-and-so is on the phone with her daughter all the time.”  I know.  We’re adults, and as adults in the building, we should have priveledges that the students don’t have.  So why do we abuse them? 

Here’s what I tell my students:

“When you are in my class, you are entitled to 40 minutes of my undivided attention and best instruction.  You will NEVER find me texting my friends or chatting on my phone because that would be a disservice to you.  Therefore, I expect that while you are in my classroom you not open your phone or use it for any reason.”  And of course, I always add that if there is an emergency, tell me!

I think I confiscated two phones all year.  And as a side note – I sold my house in November and at one point was expecting a call from my realtor.  I informed every class at the beginning of the period that I was expecting this call, and that if for any reason I received the call that I was incredibly sorry, but that it would be as short as possible.

Students get it.  And if you show respect for the same rules you are applying to them, they will respect those rules as well.  I am a firm believer in that.

Here’s the kicker.  His philosophy on discipline is that it starts with the teacher, and when a teacher sends a student out of class, they are slowly losing power in their own classroom. 

Now I get it.  Kids can be tough.  But I’d like to think that with my diverse class schedule, I see the whole gamut (sp?) of behavior issues.  And I asked ONE student to leave my class last year.  In retrospect, I could have probably handled it differently, too.  I guess you learn as you go.  But I firmly believe that students who are discipline problems need to be dealt with through clear communication and clear expectations.  I also believe that as soon as you become argumentative with a student, you’ve lost them.  They don’t want to look like a fool in front of their friends, and you don’t want to look like you’ve lost control, but really, when you kick them out (which is what you’re stuck doing in these situations), you’ve already lost it. 

That being said.  I wanted to get up and hug the man, but I felt that might be a little too forward for the first day.  Regardless, I have a feeling that this is the beginning of a beautiful professional relationship.


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