Dear New Campus Principal,
I know you have to do SOMETHING when all the we come back to school. I know that you are under the gun to be amusing, engaging, and informative. Some of us are a pretty hard audience. We have been through a whole lot of your kind over the years. It’s tough. Everyone is watching you and waiting for you to make a mistake so we can pounce on you like sharks on chum.
I thought I would make your life here a little easier by giving you a few pointers to make your new life here easier and to start the new year off on a good note. Believe me, I have been through a bunch of campus administrators over the years, and that old saying about never getting a second chance to make a first impression is true. Especially with us teachers.
So consider this a friendly welcome to the building letter. I hope you take it in the spirit that it is written.
Here goes nothing:
Please don’t show us a Ken Robinson video about how schools kill creativity and then in the next breath show us our test scores and tell us how we need to bring them up this year by sticking to the prescribed curriculum. Also any video that was made from cheesy sentimental slides telling us that all kids can learn while playing over some generic soft instrumental music is a no no. Oh, and we all saw that video of the guy that got everyone to dance on the hillside a couple of years ago.
Avoid giving us sports related platitudes about how we are all a team and that there is no “I” in team.
Don’t tell us that we need to use lots of technology in our classes if you are not willing to allow us time to learn how to use the technology and how we can incorporate it into our lessons. Allow us time to explore how we can use technology.
Don’t say you “plan” to do something. Either you are doing it or you are not. DO you PLAN to be walking the campus each morning or are you actually going to do it? Do you PLAN to be highly visible or are you actually going to do it? Do you PLAN on having lots of parental involvement, or are you actually going to have lots of parental involvement? We have seen lots of plans. We want to see lots of follow through.
Do not read a handout verbatim that you just gave out. We are all adults, We all have degrees. We can read. Really.
Do not say you want to have a culture of high expectations, and then are happy with test results that are the minimum expectation. Either we have high expectations or we don’t. But if we have high expectations, that means we also have high expectations for you.
On a side note, don’t tell us to not be afraid to fail, if you are going to get made if we fail at something. Set your rules for this, set your expectations, and let us know up front what you consider “acceptable failure” and what you do not.
Do not say you expect all of us to keep up with the latest trends in education, but then refuse to pay for any professional development opportunities. If it is within reason, then please send us to on going and meaningful professional development. And you can come along with us.
Do not read off your Powerpoint slides word for word.
Do not show a stupid Dilbert comic.
Do not treat teachers that have been in the system for 30 years the same as a new teacher. We know where the book room is, We know where the custodian hands out the keys. Meet with them separately to give them the lowdown on the basics.
Do not show us ANY video longer than 3 minutes.
Do not start a Book Study on the first day back.
Get to know the new staff BEFORE you introduce them at a meeting. Why are they here? Why did you hire them? Give us a little insight as to why you think they fit in here. Don’t just tell us that you think they will do a good job. Tell us WHY you think they will do a good job. Show us that you really thought about them when you hired them.
Don’t say you have an open door policy and then never be around. An open door is useless if no-one is there.
If you want us to use technology, then you use technology. Show us your blog. Show us you can walk the walk. And if you cannot, at least learn with us. Then use it.
We had BBQ for lunch last year. Try something different. Oh, and your secretary hates fajitas.
Tell us you are perfectly willing to take down every single motivational poster that has been hanging in the office for the last 10 years that no one has ever read.
Tell us that you will let all of us know when you will be out for the day. Don’t just tell your secretary.
Give us your cell number.
Have a great year.
And Good luck.