Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The PrinciPAL

Oh Spot! I know I've been away for far too long. I've been teaching! All right...well, sort of. Mostly, I've been trying to keep my eye on the blossoming boy-girl relationships that I'd like to pretend really don't exist at all. Can curricula and romance actually exist together in one brain?

Today's topic, Spot, is who's the boss? I know, in my classroom...I AM, mister, and don't you even think about challenging that! But I'm also responsible to my own boss, Spot. And believe me, I've had more than a few.

In real world? Teachers are often the kings and queens of their own domain. Sure we team, and talk, compare notes and data, etc. But...the bottom line is, I really am large and in charge, especially once the door is closed.

Last year, my dream principal retired. I was very sad about that. We danced into the wee hours at her party, spinning and twirling and everyone singing along. This year? Another dream principal friend of mine is retiring. Parents love her. She's a tough, full-spirited boss, who keeps her thumb on the pulse all the time. Some, love that. Others, especially those who felt the heat, did not appreciate that. I never really felt the heat. We did have a few 'testy' meetings behind closed doors in her office, though. (Yes, I did get called in for...well, a difference of opinion, now and then.)

I knew what she was up to. In our hearts, it was always about the kids. We battled over the true definition of the word 'instruction' and what really helps kids to learn. If she felt she was right (always!), she'd never let me off the hook at all. She was like that big hefty wrestler holding down the little guy on the mat. Sometimes, we'd actually agree to disagree.

I know I was a bit of a pain, Spot. As you know, I've always had more than a few opinons when it comes to teaching and kids. She always heard me out, though. And that, for sure, meant a lot.
I left my old principal and that sweet little school long ago. I found myself with a new bunch of older, more able student writers, and that is really what drew me away. But now? Time and distance has given me a greater vantage point. I realize how important that thumb on the pulse really was. Kids need to learn. We need to know that the goals we set are reasonable and well-managed. And I have to say, I learned that all with her.

So now that she's not my boss, she'll always be a well-respected friend. Teaching, like life, is a very human business. We spend our tenure working hard, thinking and breathing around kids, we can even agree to disagree, but in the end, it's the memories, the kids, and the valiant make little puppies like you into true citizens of this wonderful's our legacy. And the legacy unites us all.