Moving to Central Office & Staying Student Centred

Over the summer I will be transitioning from my role as a school based administrator and moving into a system wide, central office position. After 14 years as a principal I feel up to the new challenge, however along with all the normal feelings associated with any significant job change comes the realization that my new assignment will take me one step further away from direct contact with kids. This is not settling well with me because the reason I entered the teaching profession in the first place was to work (directly) with kids and to make a difference in their lives. Many would say that district level administrators, far removed from daily classroom life, are no longer in the best position to make important decisions that directly affect the students they serve. In the past I’ve remained tight-lipped as those in the trenches complained about directives being forced on them by the higher-ups who “Don’t know what it’s like to teach anymore.”


This leaves me worried that it may be difficult to maintain a focus on student learning as I fall deeper into the role of Assistant Superintendent. What if the “administrative” stuff overwhelms me? What if I slowly but surely entrench myself under piles of paperwork in an office? What if I become exactly what those disgruntled were talking about not so long ago? That’s not going to happen to me! So, I’ve come up with a couple of lists that I will endeavor to live by in the coming months and years. The first is a list of the big ideas I hope to stay focused on and the second is a list of the little extra things I hope to do day in and day out.

List 1 – My Professional List

  1. Recruit and hire the most forward thinking, innovative teachers who will effectively engage todays students.
  2. Work with principals and teachers to develop collaborative and reflective instructional supervision and evaluation programs in order to build capacity in all teachers.
  3. Provide in-service to principals and teachers on ways to better engage today’s learners, focussing on the Framework for Student Learning.
  4. Model and demonstrate broad involvement and collective responsibility for student learning.
  5. When directing resources always consider the most at-risk students first.

List 2 – My Personal List

  1. Switch from a Dell to a MacBook Air because that’s what most students are using.
  2. Attend celebrations, assemblies, sporting events, concerts, and graduations.
  3. Conduct classroom walkthroughs in every school consistently throughout the year, talking to students about their learning.
  4. Consult with my two daughters (11 and 13) often and always.
  5. Keep Tweeting. Keep blogging.

I’m not sure exactly where the future will take me. I can only hope and pray that I leave this profession some day in the same way I entered it; making a difference in the lives of kids.

Categories: Capacity Building, Education Transformation | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Moving to Central Office & Staying Student Centred

  1. Thanks for sharing your blog. Interestingly, I am moving from a VP/teacher role into the office as Principal and many of your concerns are my own. I will have to pay close attention to your suggestions for keeping connected as they apply in my situation as well. Thanks again.


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  3. The way that usually works best in such transitions is to convene a (formal or informal) advisory committee – ideally of alumni, students, and teachers – with whom you confer from time to time. It could be as simple as a lunch-group, or as elaborate as a formal “Advisory Council.” And it’s usually much, much better to have a cross section that includes alumni, current students and current teachers, both to ensure some productive gossip and to empower them to do their own networking. That need not undermine the Principals, Department Heads, etc., etc., or, at least, no more than the Lords citizens undermined the Dukes, Earls, and others in the hierarchy with some informal networks that even included serfs from time to time.


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  5. First and foremost, congratulations on the new job Greg. I have only had the good fortune of dealing with you via technology (twitter, email, text,skype) both personally and through classroom long distance experiences. It is so clear to me that you are a transformational leader in every way. Your approach to education, leadership, mentorship, family and life are all exemplary. Are leaders born or created? Either way, you’re it. You will NOT become one of those ivory tower leaders because your feet are too firmly rooted in the ground.

    # 3 on your professional list – providing pd for principals is key as you have so much to share. As always, modeling the love of life long learning is key.

    #4 on your personal list of consulting your daughters is wise as the view from the student is key.

    #5 is another great one. While you still haven’t converted me on tweeting yet, you definitely have me blogging.

    Congrats again on the new opportunity Greg. As an fyi, our director recently resigned….


  6. If you hold true to your list, you’ll be fabulous! Keep tweeting and we’ll hold you accountable too, 😉
    good luck!!


  7. Great post as everyone involved in education can never lose sight of children’s perspectives and needs. Add “take the chalk” to your list and get into the classroom as a lead learner and directly interact with students.


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