Principals Who Are Classroom Teachers: Should This Be Common Practice?

This fall, I return to the classroom. Well, partially return to the classroom. I am going to be teaching Theater Arts this year, and serve as school principal. I've heard all the arguments over the years about administrators returning to the classroom to teach once in a while. The argument usually goes that administrators sometimes forget what it's like to face a classroom full of students. They need to return to the classroom once in a while as a refresher and reminder. There may have been times I've thought the same thing. After being in the role of an administrator for a few years now, I understand why that is not always possible. Still, I am both apprehensive and excited about the prospect of facing a group of students again. The apprehension comes from wondering whether my six years or so out of the classroom have made me forget all those little things every good teacher never seems to forget. The excitement comes from being able to forge teacher-relationships with students instead of administrator relationships, and there is a difference.

This year I want to try to maximize my professional learning by engaging in some of the following:

  • Use Edmodo: I have been fascinated with the possibilities of this social media-like tool for over a year now. The teachers at my school all engage in its use. I look forward to using and learning about it from a classroom teacher's perspective. Edmodo did not exist when I left the classroom 5 years ago.
  • Use Electronic Portfolios: Since Theater Arts is both performance-based and academic, I look forward to helping students assemble a "professional portfolio" demonstrating what they've learned from our class this year.
  • Use Project-Based Learning: I used PBL sometimes 5 years ago, but I look forward to bringing it central to my classroom practice.
  • Prove I Can Still Teach: I loved being a teacher. It was with some reluctance I even entered an administration degree program. Someone convinced me that I could have a greater impact on students in the role of principal.
Ultimately though, is it a good thing for school-level administrators to also be teachers? Can you be both school leader and faculty teacher too? What do you think? Thoughts welcome.
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