Saturday, January 23, 2010

Loving the Honesty

I am currently reading Kim Marshall's new book, Rethinking Teacher Supervision and Evaluation: How to Work Smart, Build Collaboration, and Close the Achievement Gap. I love it.

In the book he lays out some cornerstones to what he feels make an effective instructional leader.
  • Principals must conduct brief "mini-observations" followed up with conversations regularly with all staff
  • Principals must monitor and support teams of teachers developing strong unit plans
  • Principals must monitor and support the use of more frequent, formative assessments
  • Principals must be efficient and effective communicators of school vision and beliefs and must manage their time powerfully
Kim has been putting these thoughts together for a long time and you can get a look at his articles on his website. Some of my favorite articles center on what he calls HSPS (hyperactive superficial principal syndrome) and he details that further in the book. This book is a great gut check type book for a principal and I found myself very lacking in all areas after reading. Instead of overwhelming me though, it motivated and inspired me. Why?

Because he is so damn honest. In the opening chapter of the book, Kim recounts his fifteen years of experience at an elementary school in Boston. He tells the story focused on the many mistakes he made and the various battles he lost. He tells those stories to show how his current views became a reality.

In the principal business, we often don't like to talk about what is not working at our schools. We don't ever want any negative "press" about our schools so we often just talk about what is working. We rarely troubleshoot in my experience and rarely are we ever close to being as honest as Kim is as he recounts all of the different stories of his principalship. The honesty is authentic and motivating because I make dozens of mistakes a day and rarely do I share them or talk about them. From his mistakes, he has developed a very powerful vision of what makes an effective principal. That is how we learn, right?

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