Do schools need a Principal?

Do schools need a Principal?

Honestly, today I am lost for words. Not in the sense that something shocked or surprised and I don’t know how to respond, but in the sense that I don’t know what to write about. Usually, I have an opinion on everything and anything but today/this past weekend I’ve just been unsure of what to write. Monday is my blogging day and I try to have something posted on this day.

So I tried, really hard for my huge fan base who have been dying all day to read my post (Just kidding I have like three followers) I’ve searched my Feedly and nothing has sparked my interest. I’ve scoured twitter, #edchat seeing if anything caught my eye. Nothing. But then I was on my Tumblr and now my Tumblr hasn’t always been used as a professional account but I’ve recently switched it over from personal use. I was scrolling through my feed not really looking for anything in particular. When BAM! “A School Without Principal? Yes, really.” Shows up on my feed.

I’m instantly curious about this article. Basically to sum it up if you don’t feel the need to read it yourself (I think you should go check it out) is that there are several schools in the United States that are solely run by the teachers in the school. These schools aren’t run like public schools, they are for parents and/or students who struggle to find connections in public school. They are also an extremely project based school where the teacher teaches students indirectly.

 

avalon
At the teacher-powered Avalon Schoo, project-based learning is a key aspect of the school’s curriculum. Taken from the article.

 

I think that it is interesting having a school with no “top dog” for lack of a better word. How do they make sure that all teachers are consistent and similar across the board? They do mention having a vote on school policies which may work, I would love to get more information on this. But is this creating more work for teachers? It seems even if it is, it is not putting too much of a strain on teachers. One school (Avalon) has a retention rate of around 95% a year.

These kinds of school would definitely be interesting to actually take a look at.  I like how retention rate is well above public schools. We always hear about teachers quitting the professional within 5 years of working but Avalon seems to be doing something right. One statistic from “Why Do Teachers Quit” says anywhere from 40-50% of teachers quit within the first five years of teaching. Which is unbelievable! I can’t imagine in 5 years hating my job that I quit.One thing I didn’t really agree with is how they say there aren’t enough principals who are supportive of teachers. Now I can’t speak for everyone but I have never had a problem with my principal being unsupportive.

One thing I didn’t really agree with is how they say there aren’t enough principals who are supportive of teachers. Now I can’t speak for everyone but I have never had a problem with my principal being unsupportive. I liked this blog post about supportive principals.

What do you think of teacher-led schools? How do you think it would be like without a principal?Do you think principals are valuable in the school? Or can they be replaced with teacher committees? Is this what we should expect in the next couple years to rise? I would love to hear other peoples thoughts!

 

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9 thoughts on “Do schools need a Principal?

  1. Hey Brea, interesting read! So I can’t imagine working at a school without a principal. My personal thought is that they are important to the field and I think if they were not there, more work would be put on the teachers. However, these schools most likely would have thought about this and worked out a problem around it. Maybe I’m also biased in the fact that I’ve never been in a school without one! It be nice to see further into this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Celina, thanks for the comment. I thought the same that without a principal that there would be more work put on the teachers. But what I have read is that they have a committee of teachers that make the decision and I am assuming that only the people who want to be on the committee get to. Not everyone does. Could this potentially create more workload for teachers? Maybe but I feel like if you have a good principal who respects and supports teachers then teachers would also get a say it was happening around a school. Does that make sense?

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  2. Wow this was very interesting. I have never thought about this before. Like Celina said, I am sure the school has worked around problems to avoid more work being put on the teachers, however, I still think it is very important that there is a “leader” at every school. When I think of many teams I have participated on (sports teams, volunteering, career) each and every team has somebody in charge. If I am ever in need of support or have any specific problems, there was always somebody to go to. I would absolutely love to visit a school such as Avalon School to see the pros and cons of this work environment.

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    1. I completely agree with you Rheanne. A value of a leader is incredible especially when that leader is great at representing the school community, the teachers, the students, and parents of his school. I really struggles seeing how you could replace that. I think where most times a principle is seen as not necessary is when there is not a competent principle in place.
      Great post though Brea thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for comment, my question for you is what qualities does a “good” leader possess? And what happens if that leader doesn’t have those qualities? Is it always beneficial to have leader even if they aren’t necessarily ‘good”?

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  3. Super interesting read! I have actually heard of these types of schools before, but I did not really know HOW they worked and IF they worked. Like Matt said, having a leader is very important especially when that leader is a great at representing the school, teachers, students, parents of the school. However, I would like to point out that I know a fair share of Principals that do not meet those “leader” qualities! The schools could easily exist without the principal because they seem to cause more issues than solutions. If you do not have a good leader, then the teachers and school community will have trouble. Like Celina said too, the schools will work around any issues that we think they face. It would be nice to get a deeper insight into schools like these!

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    1. Exactly on point! If the “leader” of the school is not portraying leadership qualities than they are not in fact a good leader. How can teachers and students look up to someone like that? I think if a principal is not supporting teachers than there become problems within the school that can be hard to fix. Thanks for your comment!

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  4. Hey Brea,

    Are schools without principals better than those with principals? No. That’s the straight up answer. However, there’s no reason that they’d necessarily be worse. I believe that different governance models can work out to comparable results.

    So, could we switch over to a system entirely without principals? Theoretically, yes, although in reality, no. Even if we could switch over, I don’t think it would be worth it. There’s nothing inherently more beneficial to having no principal.

    Pragmatically speaking, since we can’t switch all of our schools over, I think there are two good things to do:

    1) Allow principal-less schools, allow them to innovate, and see what can be learned and gained from it.

    2) Train our principals to be better at what they do. Above, you questioned Matt on what qualities make a good leader. An incredible amount of work has been done in this area. Compassion, active listening skills, consensus building, decisiveness, ethical mindset, integrity, clear communication, reasonable expectations, fair treatment – and this barely even scratches the surface.

    Research has also shown that training leadership skills across all staff members helps to improve functioning. Check out an article here: http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2016/02/25/how-leadership-training-for-entire-school-staff-helps-students-excel/

    The baseline skill of being a good leader is being able to follow orders yourself. By building leadership capacity in a staff, everyone becomes familiar with giving and following direction, it builds empathy between teachers and administration, and it allows for people to step in and cover as required. A team functions better with strong, cooperative leaders.

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    1. Hey Zach, thanks for the comment!

      I definitely agree that a team functions better with a strong leader. However what happens when you don’t have a strong leader? I like how you gave qualities of a strong leader but barely scratched the surface like you said. Are “teams” better off without a leader than one who is weak? I agree with saying it would be nearly impossible to switch over all schools to be principal-less but it is an interesting thought for principals who think they can do whatever, whenever and it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks, that schools can potentially survive without them.

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