1. They honestly don't know - Schools, especially those that are part of large districts, are difficult to run and everything is surrounded by miles of red tape. The expectation that every principal and assistant principal is an expert of the ins and outs of every policy and initiative is unfair. Sure, they miss quite a bit of school for training, but that doesn't mean that they've mastered the information. I had three principals in the past with very different approaches to this. One would always say they didn't know but would ask. I like this approach best. That's what I tell my kids. I had another that would give me an answer and acknowledge that it may not be correct, but that it would get me though the day until there could be clarification. Also acceptable. Short term problem solving and a promise of follow up. The last one would just make stuff up and wouldn't admit that he had no idea what was going on. This only caused chaos and discomfort.
2. They want to be liked - It's sad really. Some principals care more about the popularity contest than actually leading their campus. Others genuinely don't understand the difference. Anytime you hear "look, I don't like it either, but it's district policy," you should check and see if it actually is district policy. This is how teachers end up hating districts and superintendents. People at lower levels blame things on them that they never said because they think people are more likely to comply. It happened with Mike Miles more often because he was the perfect scapegoat / boogeyman, but toward his end the guy started more openly confronting Executive Directors and principals about using his unpopularity to justify making whatever changes in their campuses they were too shy to put theri own name on. Example: At my campus we were told that it was district policy we would get put on a growth plan if our passing percentage was below 10% and that it was district policy. In fact, the district goal was 15% and there was no mandatory growth plan attached to it.
3. "You can't handle the truth" - Some principals just don't trust faculty and staff to be able to digest the information. I'm not saying principals think their teachers are dumb, but I am saying that principals would rather command than explain and have a discussion of expectations. The other side of it is the belief that teachers do just enough to get by so if they don't lie and say 10% mandatory passing percentage, then the school will never go beyond the district expectations.
4. "We're not lying. You're not listening" - It is entirely possible that some teachers selectively listen. I give instructions in class all the time that bounce around in my students' heads and come out as something completely different. It happens. Sometimes it's not that it was a lie, it was misheard and then spread around town as a great lie of some tyrant trying to rule some school with deception and an iron fist. Having one of these negative experience is possibly why some principals just choose to say whatever they want under the assumption that nobody is listening anyway.
Strong leadership is key to a successful school.If you don't have trust you have nothing. Honesty is part of it. Showing you are knowledgeable and dependable is another part of it. I'm trying to understand even though I will never support lying to teachers. Why? Again, because it's taking advantage of people that aren't paying attention. Most people don't know 100% of how TEI works, what district policy is on every part of a student's uniform is, or any number of small procedures in the handbook. That doesn't mean it's right or fair to use that to your benefit as a campus leader.
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