Principals turn to booze to cope

Today a report is being released on principal workload. The report based on a national survey of 1,100 principals shows that while most love their job many are finding that “endless paperwork, dealing with abuse or grievances from angry parents, and the lack of administrative support in schools, were taking their toll.” 

Unfortunately responses that point to schools making staffing decisions whilst true are also short sighted and often just stir up principals. Most principal’s tend to use staffing resources to lower class sizes or appoint a special needs teacher. The public pressures make this a win lose situation.

Currently I am working hard to change teachers and parent perceptions on the value of instructional leadership as opposed to a management model. Instructional leadership builds teacher capacity and increases dialogue about teaching and learning. When teacher learning spirals upwards student learning is sure to follow. This model needs leaders, as the lead learner, where the action occurs in classrooms.

In order to spend up to two days in classrooms principals need time – time created with new office systems and administrative support. I have spent some 3 months changing some of the office systems, my office layout [shift filing cabinets out]  and in the future additional administrative support in the form of a personal assistant to organise my 3 days in administration. The trick is not to wait too long to get into classrooms as the perfect scenario never arrives.   

Yes the workload is never ending and sometimes we have to say NO – to teachers, parents and children and go home and spend some time with our support team – the family. My current strategy is get involved with my kids sporting teams [coaching, team manger, car transport] which forces me out of the office.

Last year I remember several conversations with principal colleagues in Toronto who spend time in one another’s school supporting instructional leadership. This builds a deeper understanding of one another’s pressures and challenges. You are not alone is perhaps the greatest support for dealing with pressures. The principal’s in Toronto are selected quite differently and as a consequence, I believe don’t quite have the silo mentality we do. However that’s perhaps another post.

As for the title of the article quoted in my heading – I’m trying to drink a litre of water a day with the bottle on my desk or by my side – so that I can enjoy that big glass of red at night.  


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