Principal Preparation Program.


Try and say Principal Preparation Program fast 3 times (I will wait while you complete this task…).

This blog is not just a tongue twister.  It goes way deeper than that.  It’s also a well-thought out review of a new Illinois Law called the School Leader Reform Act.

Actually, that’s a lie.Be Careful... You Don't Want to Crash on the First Day.

The blog is actually a thrown together half-baked commentary on what is wrong with the programs that supposedly prepare school administrators to lead their teachers and students.

The School Leader Reform Act is an attempt by the untrustworthy crooked politicians of Illinois to fix the way principals are selected and trained.

I’m okay with that.

The article from which I stole this blog says the two most important factors that influence student success are quality teaching and quality school leadership.

Fair enough.

I say let’s get rid of tenure and work on improving principals.

What?

The crooked politicians won’t address tenure?

Okay, color me not surprised (after all, the next election is always just around the corner… and the next one… and so on… and on…).

Then let’s fix the principals (like they are all broken).

The new law wants to prepare principals to be instructional leaders.  Great idea.

It also wants colleges to make their school administration programs to be more challenging.  As opposed to revenue sources for their education departments.  Again, great idea.

Another aspect of the law is to allow an alternative pathway to principal endorsement through nonprofit entities.  Okay, this might just work.   As always, there is more than one way to skin a cat (although why you would want to I’ll never know).

Let’s start cranking out new and improved principals.

With that being said, I do have a couple of concerns with the law.

One is they want each principal candidate to participate in a month long residency program.  My complaint… a month isn’t long enough.

But neither is a year or five years.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, completely prepares you to be a school principal.

The closest thing might be Marine boot camp, but that’s about it.

Admittedly, a month is better than nothing… but not by much.

The other thing that bothers me is the law requires that no more than one-third of coursework in a preparation program can be taught by part-time adjunct faculty.

I think this is idiotic.

I know the politicians want full-time faculty members to be teaching the courses, but I think it should be just the opposite.

Most (if not all) courses should be taught by practicing principals and superintendents.

Or at the very least retirees who have worked in administration within the last 5 years.

I can make the argument that I can learn more from a well-versed administrator in an hour than I can from a professor in a classroom in a semester (no offense professors).

But at least the politicians seem to be heading in the right direction.

Which is nice.

And unusual for Illinois.

I wonder when they will pass a law call Political Leader Reform Act?

Now that’s legislation I could really support.

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Believing You Are Great Leaves Very Little Room for Improvement.


The idea for this blog came to me after reading a comment left on an entry called “Perception”.

It got me thinking why educators and schools are sometimes the last to know they may not be as perfect as they want to believe.I Need This Poster.

I’m not judging, I’m just saying. 

This is an easy trap.

It can happen to administrators, teachers, custodians, cooks, school boards, parents, athletes, students and entire school districts (is there anyone I didn’t insult???).

Most of us like to believe we are self-motivated (if this was true, I wouldn’t need an alarm clock… or a scale).

And most of us are motivated.

Up to a point.

Then not so much.

The point our self-motivation fails us is when things get really hard.

It’s difficult to do things that are uncomfortable (or new).

I think this is one of the reasons it’s taken so long for technology to be taught by classroom teachers.

It can be hard (ie: new).  And confusing.  Even worse, it opens up the possibility the teacher may not be the smartest person in the classroom.

Many of us also believe the organization in which we are members is far greater than it actually is.

If you are involved with a group of people who are consistently telling each other they are great, you start to believe it.

None of us want to think we need to continually improve, but we do.

We all need help to accomplish great things.  To do our best.  To do things we could have never imagined.

It’s impossible to push ourselves to our limits (if that was the case the Marines wouldn’t need Sergeants).

Most of us think we are working as hard as possible.

We believe we are improving on a daily basis and giving at least a 110% effort (except on Fridays and days before holidays… those don’t count).

The truth is we probably aren’t.

That’s where we need help.

Other people (or outsiders) can recognize areas in which we need to improve.

That’s why we need coaches, bosses, mentors, and professional development.

We may not want people telling us we aren’t as great as we think we are, but it’s definitely what we need.

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Why Did I Have to Get the Crazy Teacher?


The Teacher I Had... Twice... Was Much Meaner Looking.Is it possible to learn more from a bad teacher than a good one?

I ask this question because I had a teacher of whom I wasn’t very fond (translation- couldn’t stand). And for some strange reason I think about her a lot.

A little weird? Maybe. A lot weird? Possibly.

Okay, it’s completely weird. I would like an explanation for this, so I can move on with my life.

This all started in a small town in 1973. I was young and naïve. I was about to have my first experience dealing with the man (aka- the school district). And I lost. Badly.

Actually, it was more than a loss. It was my Waterloo (suddenly my junior high social studies background comes in handy). The best way to describe it was an all out crushing of both mind and spirit.

You see, I cruised through kindergarten (half day… old school style) and first grade. No problems. No worries.

I loved going to school (by loved, I mean tolerated… recess was fun and lunch was always at least interesting). I was ready to move on to second grade. After all, a young man entering his prime pre-pubescent years needs a challenge.

My whole life was ahead of me.

In my permanent file were report cards full of S+’s (S pluses…). Things were going smoothly and I had expectations of a bright future.

My parents took a relatively happy, normal 7 year old boy to school registration. They left with a beaten and broken shell of what used to be a happy boy who had been filled with hopes and dreams.

What happened that morning haunts me to this very day.

Shortly after arriving at registration on that beautiful summer morning in 1973, I evidently angered a school employee. To this day, I don’t know what I could have possibly done, but it must have been bad.

The district decided to stick it to me. They gave me the crazy teacher. The “man” was keeping me down.

We had all heard the stories. After all, bad news travels fast on the 1st/Kindergarten playground.

The older kids warned us with their tales of horror about the crazy teacher.

When I say the teacher was crazy, I mean certifiably nuts. Unless of course, she is reading this; then I mean crazy as in beautiful, charming, helpful, kind, and dedicated (you see, I am very busy and all of my time is already filled with the soccer/homeschooling stalkers).

She wasn’t just a little crazy. Rumor had it that the Marines wouldn’t let her join because she was too mean.

I was 7. But I was about to grow up quickly.

A few days into school I quickly recognized this woman shouldn’t be allowed around children, puppies, or house plants. Any living thing was in danger if it got within 6 blocks of her bubble of crazy.

We always heard that when her dog ran away people used to protect it instead of return it. Unfortunately, she was crazy enough to know this and would eventually find it and drag it back home. That poor dog probably thought he was in the mob; just when he thought he was out, she pulled him back in.

If you think that is bad, word on the playground was that while most people talked to their houseplants, she screamed at hers.

I am pretty sure the principal was afraid of her. I never saw them together, which leads me to believe he was avoiding her at all costs.

The strangest thing about her? I don’t know what she did to make me think she was so crazy.

I still can’t point to one thing that led me to believe she was crazy. It was just a sense I had. And a creepy look in her eyes. And she had a twitch. A scary one.

The woman had the ability to sit at her desk and grade papers, while staring straight ahead with one eye so she could make sure the class didn’t do anything fun.

She could sense we were about to do something bad, minutes before we even thought about the idea. It was freaky.

This was the longest 9 months of my life. I felt like I was locked up in prison for a crime I didn’t commit.

This was a tough life lesson, but little did I know that things would eventually take a turn for the worse.

My 3rd grade year began and things went smoothly. For a day. On one of the first recesses of the year, I said something to my buddy about being glad we were done with Mrs. Crazy.

A dull, lifeless look came over him. Then he said it. These words still ring in my head 35 years later.

“She’s teaching 5th grade now.” After taking this information in and fighting off a very nauseas, cold, sweaty feeling I said, “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

I had two good years (3rd and 4th grade) filled with dread about having her again.

And I did. 5th grade was a nightmare that can best be described as 2nd grade: Part II.

I couldn’t stand her the first time nor the second time and yet I think about her and the expectations she had in place for her students all of the time.

Why is it that it takes 35 years to realize that some of the meanest teachers you had were also some of the best?

Consequently I don’t feel badly for the parents who come in to my office to complain about their child having the meanest teacher in the school.

I mean, really, their kid doesn’t have Mrs. Crazy like I did…TWICE!

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Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.