Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Meeting With Principals

Building a strong and positive relationship with the principal of the school your after-school program serves, is essential. Remember that when you work on a campus, that campus is figuratively the “principal’s house”, and you need to be considered a welcome guest. Although you may informally greet the principal in the hallway, it is important to set up a routine time to meet and get feedback from the school day perspective about how the program is perceived. Do teachers think that the students in after-school are more likely to get homework completed? Are they happy with how shared space is being left at the end of the program? Does the custodian believe that you are doing all you can to make his busy job as easy as possible? Meeting with the principal will help you to understand how the after-school program can support the work that is being done in the school day.

After you have learned how to be a good partner with the school day, then share with the principal what the program needs from the instructional day. Usually this will have to do with space, snack, and opportunities to communicate with the classroom teachers. A principal who supports the day to day operation of the after-school program is an invaluable asset. It is the principal who will help you find the space you need to run an effective program. Usually this space will include teachers’ classrooms, the multipurpose room, the school library, and if available, unused classrooms. All of these spaces have another person attached to them, and it is the principal who will help this sharing of space be a smooth situation. It is also the principal who can invite you to a staff meeting and suggest that grade level meetings invite you to attend. Participating in these Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings can keep you in tune with what is happening in the classroom and give you an opportunity to plan lessons and activities which will support what the students are learning in class. Communication among the stakeholders is the best way to ensure that students will be successful.

If the principal is too busy to meet with you, ask her to identify a designee that can regularly meet with you. Also, determine if the principal would like to receive weekly updates via email, memo, or face-to-face. Ask the principal how he would like you to communicate about any challenges that occur during the after-school program so that he can be fully informed by the beginning of the following school day. Some may ask you to call, others will ask you to email them or leave a note. Planning this sort of communication in advance will give you a protocol to follow.

Spend time working with the principal. You are looking for a champion for your program. If the principal is your number one fan, then you are well on your way to success.

Not so usual celebrations…

August 11th is Presidential Joke Day! Now these words can conjure a wide variety of responses, so it is essential that you have an understanding of exactly what is behind such a day. This day has its origins in the Reagan Administration, when on August 11, 1984, President Reagan was preparing to go on the radio for his weekly address. Thinking he was off microphone, he made the joke that Russia was going to be outlawed forever because of recent legislation. And then he delivered the punch line, “Let the bombing begin”. Needless to say, the comment may have had some political fall-out, but for Americans listening, there was definitely a chuckle. President’s have a sense of humor, and this day allows us to think about the current and former President in a different light—a lighter light so to speak. Of course, this humor will not necessarily come out on August 11, but rather throughout the year when the forum is appropriate. If you would like to see “pretend” political figures delivering these jokes, there are any number of TV programs you can tune into—including of course, Saturday Night Live.

Activities for kids…

Have the kids brainstorm a list of jokes that they have heard—nothing with any questionable nuance of course. Be sure that they can remember the “punch line” (sometimes they will forget this part). Have students work in small groups to make a joke book, complete with illustrations. Talk with students about the layout of the book (should the “punch line” be on a separate page, in different print?) so they can create an effective book to share with the class.

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