Learner-Centered Principalship: The Principal as Teacher of Teachers

Learner-Centered Principalship: The Principal as Teacher of Teachers

Learner-Centered Principalship: The Principal as Teacher of Teachers

Learner-Centered Principalship: The Principal as Teacher of Teachers


Webster's points are: (1) the principal must teach teachers using an informed vision of the school as an ideal setting for learner growth, (2) teaching the universe of discourse and its skills are the most important activities in schools because discourse is the "master switchboard" of all teaching and learning, and (3) effective principalship is eclectic and pragmatic. The focus of the book includes educationally sound, legally defensible teacher evaluation that has been developed with other principals who have perfected the science of "writing up" teachers. Innovations in Webster's method involve approaches to staff development, different portrayals of the authoritative basis of the principalship, and the evaluation of teaching from the point of view of discourse among practiced and inexperienced teachers.


Ideas for books are stimulated in strange ways. During my years in public education, I attended more than my share of conferences, meetings, and gatherings oriented to this or that theme, concept, or guiding idea that was presumed important at the time. Like many persons with more than three decades' experience at all levels in education, I have seen the "swing of the pendulum" through eager adoption and blind abandonment of more promising concepts than I care to remember.

During those years, one nagging thought persisted as I read about, tried, participated in, and led attempts at implementing various ideas conveyed in the literature of public education in general and school administration in particular. Something was missing.

After my transition to university teaching in 1976, and during development of my first scholarly book, Effective Collective Bargaining in Public Education (1985), I noticed something odd about education bargaining. Unlike private sector bargaining which always ends with a quid pro quo statement called "in workmanlike fashion"---public education transactions, from beginning to end, were completed with no mention whatsoever of the ultimate reason for the salaries, working conditions, benefits, and other aspects bargained for: the learner!

Nowhere is this same glaring omission more noticeable than in the literature of the principalship. Reviews of books on the principalship published over the last two decades revealed much preoccupation with management in the role of school leader. These books stressed time management, management team building, managerial leadership, participatory management, democracy in management, and so forth, with little or no attention to activities directly related to the reason for the schools: the learner.

Management appeared to be an end, not a means to the end. Indeed, principals must manage their schools, but more important, they must direct the learning in their schools---the central purpose for which their original title, "principal teacher," existed.

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