Friday, September 14, 2012

Old School Ed. Admin.

I'm about eight student days into my new assignment, and I've been thinking a lot about what I like to call "Old School Ed. Admin." topics: including safety, order, & discipline. I like to refer to these topics as "Old School Ed. Admin.", because the early educational administration scholarly literature was dominated by research in this area. This type of work often fell under the umbrella of what was termed "Pupil Control Ideology", and this was the primary charge of principals as recently as three decades ago. Things have certainly changed since then, with principals becoming more involved with the technical core, teaching and learning, of daily school operations.

I've been thinking about this recently, because this is certainly an area in need of improvement for my current school, as well as an area that the faculty and staff members have made clear to me is a concern. We've revised some procedures that have improved order in the school already, and faculty and staff members have embraced a positive behaviors program that I fully support. Most importantly, our students seem to be following our lead and have done a terrific job in following our new procedures to create a more focused learning organization. This focus on safety, order, and discipline over the past week or so, however, has caused me to step back, reflect, and rethink the importance of principal leadership.

The evidence is clear that principals have the greatest influence on student learning in their schools through indirect means. A principal's influence on learning is indirect simply because he or she is not in the classroom teaching students, at least not on a regular basis. So, by improving school conditions, trusting faculty members to do what is best for their students, and leading to improve beliefs about their self and collective efficacy, principals help teachers help students learn more. This is what we should be doing on a regular basis, however, focusing on these indirect ways to improve student learning becomes more difficult if the daily routines and procedures that exist in a school don't cultivate a culture of safety, order, and discipline. So, we're working on creating a healthy school that has a climate that prioritizes some of these "Old School Ed. Admin." topics.

Please share your thoughts on the importance of improving learning conditions in your school from a Pupil Control Ideology perspective.

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