Teacher’s Work: Addicted to Busyness
During a school visit I am conferring with a first-year principal. This individual is a dedicated, deeply thoughtful school leader committed to improving the conditions of teaching and learning in her building, and to intensifying professionalism among her teachers. In this meeting, we have set aside time to talk about her—about her new role as a school leader and the job’s many structural and interpersonal challenges.
Our meeting is cut short by another meeting that runs late, and the principal tells me she must stuff ballot envelopes while we talk, so that students can vote on who is most professionally dressed in an upcoming advisory meeting. She stands up behind her desk, so that she can stuff envelopes faster. She pauses to take a call from the executive director (from a phone she wears at her waist), then says she has to run to the front of the building to speak to a student who is out of dress code. (Could we talk while we walk through the hallway, she asks quickly?)
The principal wants to discuss test scores, but this will have to be put off until we meet next week. She wants to confer about the professional-development plans she has for later in the day, but we don’t get to that. Her observations about herself in relation to her new leadership role are raised in a variety of ways, but our conversation is jerky, truncated, on the hoof. I need a rope to lasso in all the topics that wander into the sagebrush during our “meeting” time. This principal, it is important to note, is well acquainted with the literature on the quality of attention in the teaching profession—she and I recently discussed how, for teachers, external interruptions in the classroom dramatically reduce what one writer in the field has called “opportunities to engage...
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- Round Rock ISD, Round Rock, TX
- Amargosa Valley Elementary School, Amargosa Valley, NV
- Christ the King Preparatory School, NJ
- Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning
- Roanoke City Public Schools, Roanoke, VA
- Regional Area Partner
- Focus EduVation, US