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I have a confession to make. I used to be a yeller. Early in my career (which wasn’t that long ago), I used to think my job was to scare kids into obedience. If a teacher sent a kid down to my office then it meant that the teacher couldn’t handle the student and the teacher needed some muscle and authority to “set ’em straight”.  Anger has never been a good teacher. Enforcer? Yes. But a lousy teacher.

Did all my hot air work? Sometimes. Mostly on those borderline kids. But then there were the kids that shut down. Kids that saw right through me. Kids who were so used to be yelled at that my hot air didn’t even make a dent. When yelling didn’t work, I would back it up with threats and when threats didn’t work then it was punishment.

What made me see the error of my ways? I wish I could say that it was heavenly epiphany but it was a slow realization that was influenced by a number of factors:

Coaching – too many years trying to motivate by yelling that only led to frustration. Athletes respond to discipline because they see the results. They do not respond to punishment.

“At Risk” Students – I cultivated a few relationships with highly at-risk students. Sometimes, I was able to help and students were successful. Occasionally,  students would have to leave the school but would thank me for handling them with respect or  return thankful in hindsight.

Mentors -I was lucky to work with very passionate people who always focused on what’s good for kids. They wouldn’t let crisis or emotions cloud their judgement and they tried to look at obstacles to student learning as opposed to the students being the obstacles themselves.

Parenting – unfortunately, I brought my bad teacher/admin habits into raising my own children. Having children helped me to further realize the difference between discipline and punishment. I was also able to imagine how I would respond if someone treated my kids with the yelling and punishment I treated others. If I was treating a student differently alone then I would if their parents were present, then I was definitely doing something wrong.

Now, I focus on solving problems not reacting to behaviour. I don’t always get it right and my temper gets the better of me too many times but I am convinced that yelling and punishment will not educate students. My job, as a principal, is to help kids get out of trouble. Not to get them into trouble. My job is to use my experiences, my authority, my influence, and my resources to help a student get out of trouble.

This post was encouraged by the following:

Why is it that when a student that struggles with reading or math… we support… yet when a student struggles with behaviour… we punish? Dr. Ross Greene Lost At School as shared by Chris Wejr @MrWejr

See blog at Proximal Development – Konrad Glogowski

http://www.teachandlearn.ca/blog/2007/02/05/passion-based-learning

A LIST OF SOME FUTURE TOPICS:

Principal as Managers

Dealing with Conflict

Crafting Culture

Having Fun

You Are Not Smart Enough, Efficient Enough, Good Enough – Building a Team and Delegating

Achieving Big Dreams

Leadership that Matters

Technology Tools

Managing Your Email

O3s – One on Ones

The Walk Through

Delegation!

Handheld Helpfuls

When Teachers Don’t Perform

The Teacher Bully

PLCs

The Shot Across the Bow

Feedback Model

BLUF

Mission, Organization, Team, Individual

Managing Agreements and Not People

Welcome to Principal Thoughts. Being a principal can be the most rewarding role in education. However, being an effective principal is not automatic. I don’t know how you became a principal, some of us fell into the position while some actively pursued it. Either way, I think we all agree that being a prinicpal involves a lot more than we ever expected. Are we leaders? Teachers? Managers?

This blog will examine what it means to be a principal and discuss ways that we can be better principals. I hope that through this exploration, we can all become better at this unique career of being a pricipal.