A few years back I was standing near a parent as we were watching our students enter the building first thing in the morning. As her son walked by, I said hello to him by name and the parent gasped and said, “how did you know my son’s name?” She proceeded to say that I know his name because he has must have spent time in the scary Principal’s office. Now I must admit, through the years, some names fly off the tongue quicker than others, but this parent clearly had it all wrong.
The image of the Principal and his office has been much maligned through the years, especially through popular media. Consider the incompetent administrators in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Forrest Gump, or Back to The Future. It’s likely that you also have memories of your Principal that may not be treasured and that likely influences your perspective.
Last year a parent related a bed-time story that came from his daughter. It went something like this:
Daughter: What happens when bad people die?
Father: I guess they have to talk to God
Daughter: Is that like talking to the Principal?
The bottom line is that the Principal is neither a diabolical nor omnipotent. I spend as much time playing chess or having lunch with kids in my office than dealing with student discipline issues. In fact, when I do deal with behavior, the primary objective is to teach not punish. While I do miss my classroom teacher years and my ability to really know my students in more depth than in my current job, I do enjoy greeting every student as they come into the building in the morning and when they leave in the afternoon. I love playing touch football with the third grade at recess and playing guitar in their classroom. Like my teaching colleagues, the job is obviously much bigger than what the kids see. But the best part is just being with them.