One of the reasons that I did NOT want to pursue administration was that I LOVED teaching so much. I’ll skip the whole story of how I became a principal to how I now LOVE my job as a principal and still keep active in teaching.
When I did become a principal, I told myself that I would never become a “paper pusher” or just sit in the “ivory tower.” How can I have discussions with teachers about teaching and learning if I become out of touch with teaching?
Here are some of the things that I do to keep myself in touch with teaching and learning:
1. Read professional journals, books, blogs and keep active with my PLN on twitter. (Finding time for all of that is a problem…I have a little secret place to read each day, but that’s another story!)
2. Get in classrooms as much as possible. Not only do I have a pulse on the school, but I learn from my best teachers to share strategies with other teachers and know which classrooms I can send teachers to observe great strategies.
3. 3 days a week I teach a 3rd grade intervention group as part of our school-wide WIN (“What I Need”) time.
4. 2 days a week I work 1:1 with a struggling student in math. (I’ve done this with a few other students in math and reading).
5. I keep a simple spreadsheet on my clipboard (yes-still on a clipboard, because I haven’t figured out how to transfer this to my IPad) that lists my “frequent flyer” children. These are my children that will end up if my office if I don’t make a point to talk to them during the day. I just simply fill in the day’s date on my spreadsheet for a student each time I have a positive interaction with them. This could be talking with them at breakfast about what they did last night or praising them for their hard work in class during a walk-through.
6. Last summer I ended up having to teach a summer school course when we had a teacher quit last minute. I loved it so much that this year I’m planning to teach my own class again, but teach using the Daily 5 structure so I can practice what all of my teachers will be implementing next year.
7. I assess some of the 4/5th grade students with our Fountas & Pinnell benchmark assessment at the beginning/middle/end of the year. I also use this time to praise students for the great reading strategies I see them using and talk with them about something I notice they need to work on.
8. I cover classes whenever I can–when we’re short on a substitute, a teacher has to leave early, or for teachers to observe each other.
I’d love to hear what other principals do to keep their hands in teaching/learning. Please add in the comments!