Thinking Like A Teacher…It’s Been A While

After hearing about my fellow Connected Principal Bill Brannick heading to the classroom to teach a Web 2.0 class to the students at his high school, I started thinking…

Entering my 14th year as an administrator, I feel like I am getting further away each year from the realities that classroom teachers face on a daily basis.  As an evaluator of teachers, it is alleged that I know what good instruction looks like.  Shouldn’t the Principal of a building, sometimes called “the instructional leader,” actually show that he (or she) is capable of leading a classroom of students?

Feeling strongly that the answer is an overwhelming yes, BHS Associate Principal Mark Sullivan (pictured above) and I took on the task of leading our new Web 2.0 class at Burlington High School for the year.  I am excited about the opportunity to build a closer connection with 24 Burlington High students I am sure that this will easily become the highlight of my day.  Equally important is the fact that I am proud to be able to consider myself a teacher.  With the wave of changes overtaking our classrooms with all of the new resources that are available to teachers, administrators can become disconnected from life in the classroom faster than ever.

That is something that we cannot afford!


  1. Addie Gaines said:

    I think that taking the opportunity to teach students as an administrator is something more administrators should do. I have had that opportunity during summer school to teach a reading class each year. As I schedule reading instruction, I plug myself in where the need is. Some years I have worked with struggling students and some years a large group of above grade level students that allows the students who are struggling to be in smaller groups. This year I am tutoring in our after school tutoring program in addition to running it.

    As I was recruiting people to teach in the current tutoring program (following cuts to a state funding source that provided a more lucrative salary for tutoring for some In a different program than this program), in the meeting one of the teachers asked, “So, are you tutoring in the program?” I hadn’t really planned to, but the question sparked me to ask myself, “Why aren’t you tutoring?” The more I thought through it, I realized that for the past two years, I had spent five hours a week (and additional time at home) devoted to my own further eduction on top of my job responsibilities. I had completed the degree this summer. Hmmmm…..despite my busy administrative schedule, “I don’t have time,” doesn’t really fly as an excuse in this situation.

    So, when I return to school after Labor Day weekend, i will devote two hours a week to tutoring a couple of my students. I will experience both the challenges and rewards of teaching once again.

    And, according to an article full of tips for “staying young,” one thing that helps is teaching something to someone. The article recommended volunteering at school and tutoring youngsters as a way to keep your mind active. So, making a difference to a couple of my students and accessing the fountain of youth simultaneously. I don’t know that this combination can be beat.

    September 4, 2010
    • Thanks for taking the time to comment Addie! I learn so much from working with students. After three days of class, I am sure that this is going to be the highlight of my year and invaluable Professional Development. It will be so nice to have conversations about instruction with teachers and be able to apply recent firsthand experiences instead of recalling experiences drawn from fading memories.

      Have a great year!

      September 4, 2010

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