WTW – Phil, the outgoing principal

[What Teachers Want (WTW) — the continuing story of a transition to a new principal, as told by the teachers who experienced it, and the subject of my doctoral dissertation]

If you listen to what teachers said about Phil, the principal prior to this transition, you’ll see that they liked him, they did not blame him for their problems, and frankly they felt abandoned when he took a principal job in a less demanding school in another district.

I think Phil was very well liked and I think that he had good intentions. I really enjoyed him.  (T4)

When Phil left, I felt like saying, “Hey, take me with you,” I said to myself, “Oh gosh, things are stressful, things are out of control, maybe I should look for a job in a different district or in a different school or on the west end.”  (T4)

It wasn’t Phil’s fault for so many things. We were just broken. (T9)

Phil would try to shoulder a lot of it. His wife even told us one time that she watched Phil throughout the year and his shoulders would drop more and more every month because of the stress he was under. When you can physically see the stress on your leader, it takes its toll on everyone because everyone liked him as a person. We felt that he was wearing down and, in turn, we were all wearing down. (T2)

I’ve heard staff members bash him for his leadership style, but at the same time I think to myself, you send this gentleman here who is tasked with trying to solve all these issues on top of running the building, providing all these initiatives to staff, and then having the barriers that our students face. It’s easy to criticize him for not knowing how to deal with all that, but that’s unfair to him. (T1)

For the first five years, I thought of Phil as an amazing principal, primarily in that he worked 24/7—always trying to make this school better, always office door open, and really giving people the opportunities to try new ideas and set up their own projects. He gave us a lot of freedom in that sense. But I think, on the other hand, he made his experience more difficult for himself, personally, by devoting so much time to our school without a clear determined goal. (T11)

So…Phil announces he’s leaving and the search is on for a new principal. And, trust me, that’s an interesting story…

Transitioning to a New Principal From the Teachers’ Perspective:
An Interpretive Case Study
, by Bruce Colglazier Pappas, Ed.D. (March 2016)

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