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San Clemente, CA, United States

Friday, August 29, 2014


On September 4, I will start my 22nd year as a high school mathematics teacher.

I remember early in my career how I couldn't wait for summer to end.  I had to get back in the classroom.  I needed to teach, and teach well, conic sections, logarithms, and DeMoivre's Theorem.  I read all I could get my hands on about teaching.  I read and re-read countless numbers of textbooks so that I could use the very best parts of each in my lessons.  I put together pacing guides, wrote tests and quizzes, and then waited for the calendar to turn.

Gosh how I loved those final weeks of summer.  The anticipation and nervous energy.  I loved the first few weeks of school.  Kids on best behavior and teachers still wearing decent clothes.  I loved feeling of full mental exhaustion at the end of each day.

I'm worried because I feel none of that right now.  No dread, just completely unemotional.  I'm not silently wishing the days would go faster.  I'm not sitting in my classroom, alone, just thinking about how to get better and what I hope to achieve.  I'm not pacing around my apartment planning full semesters in my head.

Instead, I'm thinking abou...

I'm thinking about applying to become a school principal.  I've had my credential for years, but I never really considered it.  Well, I'm starting to think it might be a good fit.  First of all, I'll never get a gig.  One has to spend years toiling away as a Discipline Asst. Prin. or Guidance Asst. Prin.  before getting a shot at the title.  I know I'm just exercising my brain, but I'm thinking more and more about the impact the job could have. 

My first thought is to my current principal.

He's good.  Really good.

It sounds cocky, but one of the things that makes him good is that he recognizes that I am good at what I do and that I am an expert in my field.   He also recognizes that I have passion and am a hard worker and he uses all of that information to let me be a strong voice in the decisions that affect my department. 

Though I don't know him well,  he seems to be his own man.  I like that.  I don't see that much.  I see a bunch of people just trying to get through their day.  Doing what the bosses say to do.  Not thinking too much, not caring too much.  Just getting along and taking the easier road.  I don't think that's him. This guy will fight the good fight and if a policy is wrong I don't think he's afraid to raise a little hell as needed.I like that a principal can still stand up for what he believes.

My main reason for considering this move, is to be the educational leader every high school needs.  I'm not a fan of the current trend in hiring school administrators. I want a guy who has walked a mile in my shoes.  I want a guy who can come into my class, do an observation, and say things to me like, "Have you ever tried...." or "What about using....", or "When I was teaching....."   I want a guy that knows what I know and that takes time.  I want a guy seasoned enough to know that pendulums swing back and that teachers aren't the lazy, entitled, arrogant, untalented group that many have painted us as. 

The current trend in hiring Principals seems to be teach for 3 years, be an Assistant Principal for 3 years, then become Principal.  MOST guys that take that path never fully get the respect of the staff.   Maybe the office staff, but most teachers want a guy who has been on the front lines and knows that education happens in classrooms with teachers.  To fully get the teachers on board?  Give them someone to look up to.

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