The challenges of being a high school principal are numerous. Daily issues of dress code, tardiness, student engagement, consistent enforcement of rules, etc. coupled with leading the school community into 21st century teaching and learning is enough to drive one insane. However, this balance between management and leadership excites me.
I define management as the day to day operation of the building, from rules enforcement to paper pushing. Management is taking care of the little things before they become huge problems. Management is not always fun, but it’s definitely necessary. Proper classroom management allows for quality teaching and learning. Proper building management allows teachers to teach and students to learn.
Leadership is vision, planning, developing and serving others, and it’s fun! Currently, my district is going through an evolution in how we teach, learn, and assess. The “tip of the evolution spear” is an annex to Gahanna Lincoln High School, called Clark Hall. Clark Hall is going to be a 21st century designed building that will allow 21st century teaching, learning, and assessment to take place. It’s creative in design, set up to be a collaborative learning environment, and plans to have a solid wireless connection are underway. There is so much at stake, yet I’m loving every step of the way! The challenges are huge, but this project has been a living, breathing example of Quadrant D learning (High Rigor and High Relevance).
I’ve selected a group of 30 teachers who will be teaching at Clark Hall and they are chomping at the bit to get started. Well, they selected themselves through conversations each one has had with me about their vision for teaching and learning. Our emphasis at Clark Hall is on creativity, student autonomy, collaboration, technology integration, student choice/student voice, blended instruction, and problem solving. While this is an extensive list, I believe it’s what learning is all about. The leadership challenge is being able to pace and plan out our steps so that we do not try to do everything the first year.
This is the most exciting time to be an educator and I’m blessed to be the building principal of a large, succesful suburban high school in a district that is forward thinking and well supported. The building and district leadership teams are two of the best around. Why change now? Why build Clark Hall? Why stress 21st century school redesign and 21st century skills? Why not?
Manage the day to day, but lead today for tomorrow…