Last week I served as “Principal For A Day” at Stephen Decatur Middle School. It’s a yearly initiative to strengthen partnerships between the schools and community leaders, local businesses, and non-profits.
This year marked my fourth serving as Principal and each year has been an enlightening experience. As Principal, I’ve sat in on building planning meetings, observed classroom instruction, been on hall duty, and seen my fair share of lunch duty as well. Each school and experience has been different, all providing a unique perspective on the challenging role of the Principal and the innovative ways in which we can support our local schools.
I arrived at 7:45, was warmly greeted and then whisked away to a meeting with the principal and teachers, quick break, meeting with the principal and parents, class observations, lunch duty, tours, etc.; trust me, the Principal’s job is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. In terms of logistics, the day was quite similar to previous years but the lesson on love was not expected. I’m always amazed by the lessons we learn unexpectedly when we pay attention.
1. How do you refer to those you love? The children are referred to as scholars. This is major because a scholar is a distinguished academic, a person who is highly educated or has an aptitude for study. When the Principal, teachers, staff, etc. refer to the students as scholars, they are speaking over their lives. They are reminding the children of what they are capable of and declaring their greatness.
Lesson: Speak life and call things as though they were.
2. How do you encourage those you love? During a math class observation, a student expressed difficulty in solving a problem. The teacher took the time to walk through the problem further and while doing so asked the scholar to explain where he ran into trouble. The student’s voice was quite low (possibly because there were a few visitors in the room) so the teacher provided encouragement, gently saying, “Share your voice.” Short and sweet but it was enough to remind the scholar that the classroom is a safe place and of the importance of speaking up and being heard.
Lesson: Be gentle with your words.
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4, NKJV)
3. How do you correct those you love? As we transitioned from one meeting to the next, classroom to classroom, etc. there were a few times where students were being a little too loud or not moving quickly enough to make it to their next class in time. The real Principal asked them over gently and reminded them of what they were in school to accomplish. When further discipline was necessary, the Principal explained the course of action.
Lesson: There should always be love, even in correction.
“My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects” (Hebrews 12:5, MSG)