While everyone was quick to admire principals who “get it” and perform admirably in their leadership roles, many TLNF’ers were all too knowledgeable about the highly ineffective administrator.
To set the mood, we began with a sample from Mathews’ own list:
Don't let teachers meet regularly to talk about students and share ideas. They will only gossip and plot against you. Notice that one of the reasons why many successful charter and alternative public schools have lengthened the school day is to have time for these gab sessions. One of the business leaders in the Nathan-Plotz report, former General Mills Foundation director Reatha Clark King, said an important way to improve quality is to "encourage people to think outside the box and free up their thinking." This is obviously someone who does not know how to survive in a big school district, where ineffectiveness is often seen as a virtue because the lethargic administrator is less of a threat to others.
Mary picked up with #8 --
8. Bully and intimidate to get things done. Making progress is much quicker and more efficient if you belittle your staff at every opportunity. That way they are more likely to just say "yes, sir/ma'am," duck their heads, and get on with the program. Veiled threats of job actions, snubbing your staff in the hallway, and reminding everyone who makes a suggestion that they are not being "a team player" will ensure compliance. And, if scores are low, be sure to remind them that they now have a big 'L' for loser on their foreheads.
9. The more meetings the better. Never send teachers information in writing when you can hold a meeting instead. Remember, teachers can't or won't read without supervision. Hold meetings to make sure they all get the message. Be sure to include everyone whether the message pertains to them or not because they would just feel left out if you didn't expect them to come. Model the use of technology in the education enivronment by putting the information in a powerpoint. Read the slides to the teachers to reinforce the information (this will differentiate the instruction for both aural and visual learners). The charts and graphs will give them a clear insight into what must be accomplished and how to get it done. Since you have provided such complete information, you don't need to waste time taking feedback from your teachers. You can safely assume that you have told them everything they need to know.
10. Respond to the crisis of the moment...do not stay focused. Be sure to respond to every demand for your time -- you never know when the next call will be THE ONE that gets you fired. Principals who operate this like this never have to be burdened with carrying out long-term plans or seeing systematic changes set into motion. It is a much easier road to solve the problem that has currently set the most hands waving. It will also go a long way in inspiring teachers to create crises so that their concerns can be addressed.
11. Use observation as punishment. Never enter a teacher's classroom unless conducting a formal observation for the purpose of fullfilling employment contract agreements. Teachers do not need to see the principal as an instructional leader. They do not need to have confidence in a pricipal’s knowledge of best instructional practices. Teachers do not require formative feedback about their practice; instead they like to be told things like, "Your room was arranged efficiently and your lesson plan was clearly written." They will be sure to increase student learning if you make notations on the observation check-off sheet such as, "Your desks are not neatly aligned with your white board and students should be more quiet while visitors are in the room."
12. Provide teachers with lots of negative feedback. Teachers need to be told what they are doing wrong in the bluntest terms possible. Be especially alert to opportunities to "correct" new teachers, and be creative in ways of providing corrections. For example, if the new teacher doesn't realize it's her responsibility to see that the lunchroom tables are clean after her students eat, then embarrass her by giving her the "Dirty Sponge" award and post this information on a bulletin board in the office so that everyone who comes in can see her mistake. Negative feedback keeps teacher self-efficacy low, where it should be. That makes the staff easier to control.
13. Play favorites. Select a handful of teachers whose viewpoints most closely align with yours and meet with them, privately, in your office to share confidential information on upcoming changes or swap stories about troublemaking personnel. Appoint these confidantes as "acting principal" on days when you'll be out of the building. Invite them to use your office and your secretarial staff on those days. Use these teachers as your eyes and ears in the building, and encourage them to report back to you with the smallest rumblings. Develop a bi-partate atmosphere: you're either with me or against me.
14. Avoid any suggestion that teachers are accountable. In addition to the overly-controlling ineffective principal, we have the overly laissez faire principal. Don't hold anyone accountable for anything, ever. Don't expect teachers to learn, grow and improve their practice. Don't notice when teachers leave immediately after students on early release day instead of staying to collaborate with their colleagues. Don't say anything when you hear a teacher screaming at a student. Don't say anything when teachers skip professional learning sessions. Let teachers "cover" whatever they feel like teaching, or whatever interests them, instead of "uncovering" district/state standards for/with their students.
Do you have items you’d like to add to our list?