SWG#3 EDU5263 Fall 2010 Ed Bell The Man in the Principal’s Office“Another thing that Ed often does is get all hepped up about next year at the close of the year. He might as wellgive up, because teachers are too tired, too involved in the winding up of the classroom, to get very excited aboutnext fall. And it’s very boring to the staff that are not coming back to talk about next year’s class.” Teacher, TaftElementary Time is Not Always on Your Side.Despite what the Rolling Stones may think, time can often be ahindrance especially in the workplace. Principals are not anexception to this rule. The principal’s role is a difficult one, theymust not only manage the day-today workings of a typical schoolbut they must also have the hindsight and foresight to control thepast present and future in order for their institution to continue tooperate. This task often requires the principal to delegate dutiesto staff members and require assistance from the school boardbut ultimately the ownership and responsibility lies on theprincipal’s shoulders. A Year in the Life Begin planning for the following school year only three months into the current year. Submit next year’s estimated budget in the first week of December. Target student teachers that show promise in hopes of hiring them for the following school year in the month of February. Ask faculty their preferences (grade, room etc.) for the following year and already begin to make assignments in March. Curriculum changes done by April Inform teachers to begin preparing major assignments for the following school year in April. Students attending next September need to be brought in to school in May with their parents to prepare them for next fall. Critical Analysis Talk as the work: “Begin thinking about the class assignments” is an example of Gronn’s analysis of control. In this case it appears that Ed Bell might be using reply ii: Talk at. Although this may be a general statement to all teachers it is very clear that Ed is talking at his faculty. Seven-Lesson School Teacher: Gatto lists the first lesson every teacher teaches, confusion, and in this case the lesson is being taught amongst staff. This confusion most certainly gets relayed to the students. While Ed is caught in the future and his teachers are dependent on him for the present we see a disconnect that is the result of to much being taught or in this case managed. The notion of a principal living on an overlapping 19 month calendar is extended to all contemporary school settings despite the fact that the job description given by most principals involves starting and finishing a 12 month year where for nine months the primary focus is student learning.
SWG#3 EDU5263 Fall 2010 The cycle of the principalship 2010 : A Glimpse at HadleyWithin the halls of Hadley Junior High School in Gatineau, Quebec students and teachers alike arefilled with a sense of enthusiasm that only a Friday afternoon can bring. Administrators are withoutthis unbridled joy for the weekend as that would imply that there week was coming to an end.While the majority of the school’s inhabitants will enjoy the first week of Christmas shopping theadministrators will be attending school success plan meetings and the only other people in thebuilding will be the schools after-hours maintenance crew.This is the norm for an administrator, while others are enjoying a well deserved break they are heldaccountable to work longer hours and during the summer months. The planning for the currentschool year and future school years are done well in advance and in conjunction with provincialand regional governing boards. In the case of Hadley, a three year plan is created. This three yearplan follows the school’s mission statement, objectives, and includes detailed strategies and actionall of which are compiled into what is known as the school success plan. The ultimate goal for theprincipal is to help plan this three year endeavor and ultimately see it through. This differs incomparison to the world of Ed Bell seen in Harry F. Wolcott’s The Man in the Principal’s Office wholives on an overlapping 19 month calendar that focuses on three separate school years because theplan is created and then committed to over the three year course and then not until the end of thecycle does the focus shift to planning the next three years. The principal’s main goal in planningthis three year cycle is delegating and appointing colleagues to ensure its success and allow for aconcentrated focus for holistic success.Compared to the “to do” list Hadley seems to have found a different schedule. For examplestudents who are new to Philemon Wright High School and Hadley Junior High School are givenan orientation day during the first few days of the school year. These days are dedicated to thetypical grades that have new student populations. For instance the first day of school is only opento grade 7 and grade 9 students. The following school day only grades 8, 10 and 11 can enter thebuilding and the grade 7’s and 9’s are asked to stay home. On the third day all grades are broughtin.Often times the frustration and confusion of planning on a three year calendar is passed on to staffmembers. This is also portrayed in Wolcott’s ethnography. Whether or not this confusion that isalso relayed in Gatto’s “Seven Lessons…” accidentally or not is a matter of debate. My actions to date are not focused on one school year but on carrying out the three year school success plan. Dodi Payne, Vice-Principal, Hadley Junior High School 2
SWG#3 EDU5263 Fall 2010YOUR GUIDE TO BECOMING & REMAINING A PRINCIPALSo you want to become a principal? Career decisions about becoming an administrator are made early. Inorder for you to become a principal there are two processes are linked to ideas of:(a) “Sponsorship” (aka “sponsored mobility”) Many current administration will “recruit” those they can see will be beneficial to a school’s administration; these current principals are essentially “sponsoring” others to become a principal. This idea is proven through Wolcott’s ethnography – stating that: “Sponsorship appeared to have been a key factor in the process by which many of the principals in the district had achieved their administrative status” (p.194).(b) “GASing” (aka “contest mobility”) meaning, “Getting the-Attention of-Supervisors” The key in GASing is to get the right kind of attention without appearing that you are trying too hard to get it. (Wolcott, p.198) The idea of GASing can also be linked to formal academic preparation; school administrations generally do put a high value on professional training in education. Therefore, if you want to get into WHAT TO EXPECT AS A PRINCIPAL... credentials are there! educational administration make sure those Conformity The terms “autonomy” is very present in the day in the life of a principal, and there is a realization that there may be a battle between the ideas of: o Individual vs. Institution o Control vs. Autonomy Bring on the Learning Revolution Teaching the As principal Ed Bell states: “Most of us don’t want to give up our Individual autonomy for the sake of conformity. I’m high on that list” (Wolcott, p. 208). Ed understands the power of the central office http://www.ted.com/talk (aka. the school board); however he also speaks to us about the s/sir_ken_robinson_bring_ strategies he uses in order to achieve autonomy. For example, on_the_revolution.html making sure there are few complains, going ahead with a program without making a big issue, and as Ed states – not doing anything that will “rock the boat too much” (Wolcott, p. 209). Principal socialization Socialization relates to the role the principal takes (i.e. knowing what behaviour is appropriate) Different kinds of information principals control and use (i.e. knowing information about different people) Socialization related to the educator subculture (i.e. how well you do as a principal depends on your socialization skills and efforts; need to know how to interact with colleagues) Expectations of professional behaviour (i.e. accumulated wisdom based on years of professional experience). 3
SWG#3 EDU5263 Fall 2010 CRITICAL THINKERS: WHO NEEDS THEM?After looking at what needs to be done in order to become aprincipal, and what to expect as a principal – it is important to seethat all these ideas are connected to research that has been done inthe field of education. Mary Metz in the article “Real school: Auniversal drama amid disparate experience” (1989) relates the idea ofconformity in education back to what we need to expect asprincipals. Metz (1989) looks at the idea of teachers as “normalisers”– also bringing back the idea of control vs. autonomy. As principals,it is important to make sure teachers are teaching the individual; weneed to learn how autonomy can be used within the school we run. In the article “Talk as the Work: The Accomplishment of School Administration” (1983) Gronn’s ideas can be related back to the idea of socialization in supervision or socialization as principals. Peter “Between two thirds and Gronn suggests that talk is the medium for interaction. We learns three quarters of the total that talk can be used to build coherence, consistency and meaning in working time of a the institution if used correctly. For example, within the central principal or system of the school board there is constant upward and downward superintendent is spent communication between teachers, students, administration etc. – the talking...talk is the work” flow of communication within the system is important. (Gronn, 1983, p.2). -THEY SAID WHAT?!?- Through reading some of the suggestions – some might be thinking “Is this for real?” It is a very important to ask – do these ideas presented actually play into what happens in the educational system today. It is clear that much of what is going on in terms of becoming and remaining a principal does happen in today’s society. One principal stated: “I likely got the job not because I was the person they wanted, it was to keep out the people they didn’t want” (High school vice-principal in Whitehorse, Yukon; October, 2010). This really demonstrates the importance of being in the right place at the right time. As Ed Bell also states: “I think it’s just luck, catching someone’s ear, or being at the right place at the right time. There were other guys who had been around longer than me when they asked me to take on my first job as an acting principal” (Wolcott, p.193). Each principal is there for a reason, and in order to get into that position you need to be able to get noticed by those who “matter”. 4
SWG#3 EDU5263 Fall 2010 THE PRINCIPAL AS SOCIALIZER Socializer In a school, the principal plays the role of socializer. New teachers experience cultural compression as they encounter culturally patterned “boundaries of acceptable behaviors” (Wolcott, p.229) that fit into the school culture. They are judged by how well they conform to the culture. The principal may attempt to enculturate experienced teachers who do not share his or her educational philosophy by giving them a negative performance evaluation or by suggesting they should transfer out of the school. Teachers who do not agree with the principal’s pedagogy may be socialized out of the school or they may attempt to counter- socialize the principal. Teachers who do not depend on their teaching job for status or for income may be partially immune to socialization efforts. Socialization tips from Taft teachers -“A school […] has an atmosphere that either fits, or does not fit, yourself as a teacher” (p. 231). Find a school that fits you. Kay Johnson, new teacher -“‘tighten up’ after you’ve been nice and easy” (p. 233) and be prepared for the principal to drop by. Mary Lou Berg, new teacher - Don’t ask to leave school to attend a church conference and don’t leave the building before 4:00 p.m. Alma Skirmish, experienced teacher“Socialization occurs as a function of human interaction, not - Do not attempt to make any changes to the system even though it needs tomerely the unilateral action of a single individual. The socializer change if you’re going to stay in teaching.socializes, but is also socialized in the process” (p. 266) Ellwood New, former teacher and Ph. D candidate Loosening the Coupling The formal teacher evaluation process mandated by central office is tightly coupled to the “organizational rules and policies” (Wolcott, 2003, p. 268) of the educational hierarchy. Ed had to evaluate new and specific experienced teachers each year. He followed a prescribed process and completed specific forms in a set time frame to send to central office. Ed used the teacher evaluation process to socialize teachers into his pedagogical vision for Taft school or to encourage teachers who did not fit in to transfer out of the school. Although Ed attempted to “define the situation and [teachers were] expected to fall in line with that view” (Gronn, 1983, p. 12), a teacher used talk as “an instrument or tool” (p. 2) to challenge Ed’s evaluation of her teaching. In doing so, Mrs. Skirmish counter-socialized Ed and he loosened the coupling between the final evaluation forms he submitted to central office and his general impression that she was a traditional teacher who could not change. This demonstrates Weick’s (1976) concept that there is “increased pressure on members to construct or negotiate some kind of social reality they can live with (p. 13) in a loosely coupled world. Mrs. Skirmish wanted “one tangible reason” (p. 263) why she should be dismissed since “the things [Ed] mentioned as weaknesses were mainly what [her] last principal had mentioned were strengths” (p. 262). The fact that the same teacher could be considered effective by one principal and ineffective by another for the same reasons highlights Young & Levin’s (2002) insight on how difficult it is to agree on what teaching practices should be in place in schools. 5
SWG#3 EDU5263 Fall 2010 Experienced teachers as socializers In the current Ontario system the process of socializing teachers is much more difficult than in the time of Ed Bell. While evaluations do occur and are filed with the respective school boards, their meaning is much diminished due to union influence. New teachers must adapt quickly to cultural compression due to a shortage of jobs. In a recent situation, a principal tried to have an unfit teacher removed from the school and could not due to union protection. No matter what approach the principal took socialization was not possible. In this case the principal was able to manipulate the teacher’s timetable in such a way that they were disgruntled enough to take early retirement. The principal fought back against the socialization from the board, union, and province and was able exert his will upon the staff of the school. With revolving principals it is very difficult to set up a long term approach to help socialize teachers into the school community. As a result experienced teachers are often the most influential socializers in a school. Head of the Class http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= KZcMIL5cs7U&feature=related http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= jKUGowt_- UI&playnext=1&list=PLD605BA88 40A0A59B&index=37 Source: http://timvp.com/headoftheclass AnalysisNot only do we bear witness to teachers and principals being socialized in the classroom but we can also seehow students engage in this process. Here we have Dr Samuels who is determined to maximize the outputof most gifted students with little concern for what they may feel. It takes Mr. Moore (a substitute teacher)to open the students’ eyes to the fact that they can speak for themselves and no they won’t be punished. Mr.Moore is socializing the students into the school community and yet it is the students that must socialize Dr.Samuels into the student’s world at the school. Another example of how deep socialization runs in schools.When the ideas and concepts are boiled down we find the notion socialization at the core of everything aschool does. The principal socializes the staff, students, parents and administration. On the flip side theprincipal is also socialized by the staff, students, parents and administration. Through looking at Ed and thereality of these other examples we come back to the conclusion that the main goal of schooling issocialization and it appears in subtle manors throughout the building. 6
SWG#3 EDU5263 Fall 2010 What Would Andy Rooney Think? http://www.remotepatrolled.com/2010/05/andy-rooneys-musical-rant-60minutes/ What does SWG 3 think? A Principled Principal Derek Brez rants about how Ed Bell was able to enact administrative practices in schools by being an integral part of his community, having personal conversations, and by adapting policy to suit the needs of his school in his response to Wolcott’s classic ethnography The Man in the Principal’s office (2003). Brez challenges us to consider the impact of current administrative reality where principals are invested in their career not their school, technology is replacing conversation, and complaining about policy has replaced creative thought. He wonders how effective Ed would be today, how the socialization of principals is enacted on women and minority groups, and how technology is impacting administrative work. http://edu5263.pbworks.com/w/page/30490616/SWG-3 Reader Responses to “A principled principal”J. Smith, teacher, writes:I read The Man in the Principal’s office after listening to Brez’s rant. All of the sudden I could see the theory that Iwas reading about in the principal’s qualification course I am taking come to life. I had trouble understandingwhat it treating people with respect looks like until I read about how Ed Bell treated Margaret Elder. He let herknow she needed to change, gave her the option to transfer, and acknowledged she had some good points such asempathy, even though he did not think she fit in with her staff. He could have just kept the negative evaluation hehad written and fired her. With a concrete example of how Ed did his work in the context of Taft school, I have abetter idea of what choices I would make if I ever get the chance to be a principal.B. Quinn, principal writes:Finally a book that gives people a full picture of what it is really like to walk in a principal’s shoes. What reallyappealed to me is that Wolcott did not judge Ed Bell. He just showed how Ed went about quietly doing his work.It was affirming to see that Ed make mistakes just like the rest of us. I think the book shows the human element ofbeing a principal that you don’t get in most journal articles or university courses. I hope the book shows currentprincipals how to demonstrate compassion and caring. Our job involves more than increasing test scores andwriting school improvement plans.S. Alcott, parent writes:Brez’s rant has made me sad. My children’s principal is never in the building. I just thought that was just the wayit was. Now I know what we are missing. Maybe I will go to a parent council meeting now. I know what kinds ofquestions to ask.
ReferencesEscher, M.C. (1956). Bonds of union. Retrieved Nov 29 2010 http://www.mcescher.com/.Gato, J. T. (1992). The seven lesson schoolteacher. In Dumbing us down: the hidden curriculum of compulsory schooling, pp. 1-21, Gabriola Island, B.C., New Society Publishers.Greenfield, T. (1993). Organizations as talk, chance, action, and experience. In Thomas Greenfield and Peter Ribbins (Eds.), Greenfield on educational administration: towards a humane science. (pp.53-74), London: Routledge.Gronn, P. (1983). Talk as the work: The accomplishment of school administration. Administrative science quarterly, 28(1), 1-21.Weick, K. E. (1976). Education as loosely coupled systems. Administrative Science Quarterly, 21, 1-19.Wolcott, H. (2003). The Man in the Principal’s office. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press.Young, J. & Levin, B. (2002). Understanding Canadian Schools. An Introduction to EducationalAdministration, Third Edition. Scarborough: Nelson.