Career Advice: "My Principal Wants Me to Teach to the Text"
Suzanne Tingley on convincing your principal
to let you teach your own way.
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Q | My principal requires fidelity to the district’s reading textbook. How can I convince him to let me teach the material in my own way?
A | Let’s start by thinking about possible reasons for your principal’s position. The emphasis on using test scores to evaluate both teachers and principals may make him hesitant to risk deviating from the program. Adopting a reading series is expensive, and he may be reluctant to spend additional funds on alternate materials. He may worry that if he allows you to choose, other teachers will want to do the same.
Whatever his reasons, here are some strategies that might change his mind. If your students typically test well, you might use their results to show that you have a history of success. If your students don’t do well, an argument could be made that they’d do better with your materials
and plans, but that might be a heavy lift.
Another strategy is to ask your principal if you can pilot a unit using your own materials and methods. The objectives of your unit would be the same, and the unit test can be adjusted to reflect different materials. Invite him in to observe a lesson.
If he remains opposed, you’ll have to resign yourself to doing the best you can with the reading texts—but there’s nothing to prevent you from using other materials or methods as enrichment.
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Suzanne Tingley is a former teacher, principal, superintendent, and education professor. Her Practical Leadership blog can be found at scholastic.com/administrator.