My Principal Doesn’t Need to Blog

My principal doesn’t blog. This flies in the face of what some consider to be a 21st Century principal and what others have eloquently proposed as a must for principals.

The reality is that he doesn’t <gasp> need to blog!

Could he? Absolutely! Would it benefit education? Yes, if it was the type of blogging done by Connected Principals. Would it benefit our community? Maybe depending on the trade-off.

In life, we make trades of our time and the question really comes down to whether blogging would be a better use of time for our principal than…

  1. Visiting classrooms
  2. Getting to know and connect with 2,100 learners
  3. Getting to know and connect with hundreds of educators
  4. Participating in and attending activities, events, and athletics endeavors by our numerous clubs and sports
  5. Being active in the community
  6. Maintaining an open door for advice, support, and celebrations in which many, many take advantage of daily
  7. Being a voice in educational politics
  8. Sharing his presence in the moment without distraction of blogs, tweets, etc.
  9. Attending to the demands of a large, comprehensive high school: meetings!, reports, etc
  10. Find time for himself and family

Now, this isn’t to say those principals who are blogging aren’t doing those things. They surely are.

They have found their trade-off or have found ways to blend blogging into what they already do. Our principal could surely do the latter by placing memos, website updates, celebratory notices, etc. into a blog. This would look good and he could be known as a “blogger” but when I go back to would it benefit education or our community, the answer is probably not any more than what he is currently doing.

And, if that is the trade-off, I much prefer he keep doing the things that make him an exceptional leader and continue moving our organization down a powerful path of learning and teaching for the whole learner.

 

 

19 Comments

  1. Regarding your very first point – I’m still shocked when teachers consistently tell me they may see a principal in their classroom for no more than 10 minutes at a time, no more than twice during an entire school year. Period. Game over! And I think of my years operating profitable businesses and wonder why this happens. Such leadership would never fly in the world of business. Any business with that kind of leadership would go bankrupt quickly.

    I realize there are many impositions on administrators, much of it needless in my opinion (district meetings that serve no useful purpose, but do waste precious time that might be better spent doing those things you list). However, if the customers of education – the students – are going to be better served, it’s going to take both a grassroots (bottom up) approach and leadership (top down). Teachers have to be served first! It’s time for all administrators to serve the teachers. It’s also time for superintendents to serve principals. If we can’t make that shift happen, then the customers (students) ultimately lose. And when our kids lose, we ALL lose!

    Reply
    • Well said, Randy! It is so true and why it is number one.

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    • I have not had an administrator in my room for more than 30 seconds for 6 years. My former superintendent said it is not necessary, as he knew exactly who the bad teachers were without even having met them.

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  2. You principal should be blogging about doing all of those things….maybe 10 minutes a day before bed….what a knowledge base that would be!!

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    • Perhaps… however, most of those things are on our website so why would a blog make it any better?

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  3. I think you have made many good observationse. I was pointed in the twitter/blog direction over a month ago with the help of @gcouros. I have started to share my interest now with people on our staff. We need to model to our staff the change we want to see. Teachers now know that administration is trying to grow and learn, Thank you for your comments.

    This week we conferenced our city mayor with about 200 students / 20 staff in the theatre with city hall. Small steps – great experience – now I can blog about it. Love it! Thanks.

    Reply
    • Modeling is so important, Jack. You are right on. Do we want to model blogging or what blogging affords: reflection, transparency, sharing, connecting, etc? If it is the latter, are there other ways to model those items? Is it better to model diverse ways to accomplish this to provide multiple entry points for educators?

      Thanks for the push on my thinking. Good stuff…

      Reply
  4. Great thought provoker about not replacing face to face items with behind the desk items. However it is not an either or choice. It is both and. On Thursday, I postered several times while in PLC meetings. Made mini blogs about the team meetings. And I use early mornings to post mostly so f2f happens in school hours. Sometimes hit publish on a draft during day.

    Reply
    • Hi Bo:

      You are right that it isn’t either/or. I tried to acknowledge that in the sense that there are administrators that are doing both. I commend them for this. They’ve done the return on investment (cost-benefit) analysis and have decided to do it.

      However, I don’t believe a principal has to blog to be a great leader or a 21st Century leader. And, I do still believe there is a trade-off. Whether that trade-off is something at school, something personal, or something in-between, there is a trade-off and I think each leader has to determine if it is worth it instead of feeling they have to because of “21st Century” rhetoric.

      Reply
  5. “Could he? Absolutely! Would it benefit education? Yes, if it was the type of blogging done by Connected Principals. Would it benefit our community? Maybe depending on the trade-off.”

    Time is always a crucial factor in deciding whether or not to undertake something new. I completely understand the expectations placed up on our principals and how, in many cases, they are totally overworked because of those expectations and extenuating circumstances. I think the benefits of your principal blogging would be fantastic, and could be of huge benefit to your community, as you’ve stated. Encouragement would be my recommendation here. Email him/her a few blog posts that would pique their interest. I think if they were to do some cyber-stalking for a while (blogs and/or twitter), they’d find that they would make the time to get involved. It is a form of professional development and constructivist learning when used to its full potential.

    With that being said, as an administrator you have to set priorities, and being the instructional leader should be second to none. Administrators must be the instructional support of all teachers in their building. This is what your points exemplify.

    Great post. Really got me thinking.

    Reply
    • Nice thoughts, Andy.

      I agree that my principal has much to share and offer. I’d personally love reading his blog.

      Your recommendations are good, too. But, I don’t really want to encourage him. He knows I blog, he reads blogs, and we share ideas gained from our various readings. In fact, he is such a strong instructional leader that if I said “your blogging is going to make you better, our school better, and our learners better” he find a way to do it.

      But, he is wise enough and has been exposed enough to determine if it would to the degree somewhere else with his time wouldn’t.

      Most importantly, you nail it: “being the instructional leader should be second to none”. He is there and some day I’m sure blogging with fit. Until then, he is an exemplary 21st Century leader with his priorities perfectly aligned in my eyes 🙂

      Reply
  6. I that this post is getting at kind of a complicated thing actually. You mentioned that one of the main things that blogging does is it gets you known as a “blogger” and how that does not necessarily really help your school as a principal. In my experience, I feel that is true. I watch principals or superintendents who tweet or blog a lot, and often I wonder what they could be doing in their building instead of that. In the blogosphere or twitterverse, there is a lot of self congratulatory back slapping in the education administration world with people who tweet and blog, but truth be told, the people running really tough schools (i.e. inner city, struggling to make AYP) don’t have time to do it. Thanks for the post.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the thoughts, Matt. It is a complicated thing and blogging is a perfect vehicle for some administrators and principals. I’m one that blogs regularly and feel it has made a radical difference both professionally and personally. But, I recognize that I trade-off other things so that I can blog.

      Because of that, I find it frustrating that I hear statements of “must”, “need to”, “fail to” blog when it comes to administrators and principals — perhaps any educator for that matter. It is great for some. Not so good for others. And, perhaps neither for others.

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    • “Congratulatory back slapping…”- really? Or might this be encouragement? Support? “Thanks for thinking differently/leading differently/empowering those you lead?”

      I know school administrators who do none of the above (no blogs, no Twitter, no online networks), and I know school administrators who do some or all. From my point of view as a teacher, I would rather work with someone who is connected to others OUTSIDE the microcosm (school, district, etc.) in which we find ourselves.

      Yes, there are trade-offs, but I have found the investment in reflecting and networking online VERY worth my own time. Do I spend time tweeting or blogging when I’m with students? Absolutely not. There is a time and place. I do wish, however, that more administrators would be as open, transparent, and willing to share as the many “connected” administrators who are blogging, tweeting, and contributing to networks. My suggestion: communicate with the staff in the connected admins’ buildings to hear what THEY think. My guess is that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

      Reply
  7. For me, blogging is where I reflect with the purpose of asking other, smarter, people to reflect with me. Reflection is the one thing I saw missing from your list of what your administrator does. Is that a possible reason that tips the scales?

    Reply
    • Great thought, Russ. The list I provided is not all inclusive. He is quite reflective and taught me much about the power of it.

      Your point about blogging for that is quite true and speaks to me thinking publicly about issues, ideas, and patterns I’m experiencing. I’m okay with reflecting publicly. Some people are not and perhaps some positions in some geographic locations are not quite “ready” to reflect in such a public way.

      Reply
  8. Good post and as a school administrator who has an online presence it gives me the chance to think about why I have a separate blog as part of my official website. If the goal of a ‘blog’ (ugh, detest the term) is to be self-congratulatory than it misses the point, but if increased communication with the community is the goal of writing and posting then I think it’s an appropriate use of the technology. Glad I stumbled across the site. I added you to my Google Reader.

    Reply
  9. Are we forgetting the practicality and advantage of the mechanics of blogging and twittering? RSS feeds allow parents to be updated without filling the inbox and yet keeping in touch. Not sure how many parents check websites daily. Twittering that the bus is almost in the parking lot for parents anxiously waiting for their children to arrive from the out of school activities. How many phone calls do principals field and how frustrated parents get when they get the answering machine. Mobile communications is another… Sharing philosophies with parents becomes second nature.

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  10. Very thought provoking article. I agree with your thoughts. A blogging principal would have to look at the valuable trade off he/she would give up if they were a avid blogger. Then on the flip side….how many teachers would spend time reading the blog. Many teachers are currently blogging, but most of their co-workers or administrators say they do not have the time to read or follow their blogs. Are blogs valuable..Yes indeed. But you have to look at all the trade offs and make the rewards of blogging worthwhile to the writer and reader.

    Reply

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