What teacher doesn't want to read about the antics of a brand new vice principal? | Mentoring in the Middle

What teacher doesn't want to read about the antics of a brand new vice principal?

 "Near the end of September, I'm in my office listening to an eighth-grader tell me how to didn't mean to pull up a girl's skirt - 'it was an accident.'  The fire alarm goes off...."

Does "it was an accident" resonate with you?  It sure did with me!  Some of the most amazing "accidents" happened with some of my students over the years.  There were so many connections (of the Text to Self variety) I made reading Schooled: Confessions of a Rookie Vice Principal by Lenore Hirsch.  

I like the commitment the protagonist, Cynthia Walker, felt towards her students.  I appreciated that she was consistent with them and insisted on following the rules.  She cared deeply but didn't use that to excuse their behavior.  Unfortunately, I was also not surprised by how familiar John Carlson, the principal, felt to me.  After working with multiple principals over 20 years of teaching, I've seen a few who had similar qualities.  I also chuckled with Gaby Vargas, the office secretary, who like many in her position, should be paid three times what they earn.  She held parents at bay, located students no matter where they were, and was a good ear for the times Cynthis felt overwhelmed.  Which was often.

Cynthia's compassion for her students and their parents, having her teachers' backs, and the possibility of a romance made me sad when the book ended.  I would put this on your TBR list!

After I finished the book, I asked Lenore Hirsch some questions and she graciously responded.  Read her responses and see if they don't make you want to read her book.

What prompted you to write about your experience as a first-year administrator? 

For years, friends and fellow writers had asked why I didn’t write about my experiences in the classroom and as an administrator. I never had a desire to write a memoir. But, as I experimented with writing fiction, it occurred to me, I could write a novel about a year in the life of an administrator and include many of the wacky things I had experienced in my 31 year career. I made her a rookie in order to add the tension of being new on the job and dealing with a bizarre boss. Although based on real experiences, the characters are exaggerated, and the romantic interest is a complete fiction. 

 What made you decide to leave the classroom to become an administrator? 

Most of my teaching years were as a middle school Resource Specialist, that is, I taught English and math to learning disabled kids, did testing, and scheduled and led IEP meetings. There was so much administrative work in the job, and organization is one of my strengths, so at some point I thought I might as well be an administrator. My first administrative job involved teaching half a day at an elementary school and then doing administrative work. That was tough, because at the end of the day I still had to read student work and plan lessons! So I went to full time administration as a middle school vice principal. As you know from my book, that’s not an easy job (and in my real job I was responsible for discipline for 800 7th and 8th graders!) So I decided being an elementary principal would be more fun. And it was!

What were some things you missed from the classroom? 
I missed the daily contact with a group of students you get to know and watch improve, especially in special education, with small numbers of students and instruction targeted at individual needs. As an administrator, you know a lot of students a little bit and the ones you see daily are the most troubled ones!

 What were some ways you felt like you made a greater impact? 

As an administrator, I was able to make life a bit easier for my teachers, by keeping things organized, handling as much of the annoying paperwork as possible, dealing kindly and fairly with students, having teachers’ backs with difficult parents, and giving helpful feedback on instructional techniques. All of that helps teachers to do their best with students. And I know I made a difference in the lives of some kids who needed a consistent, structured, loving approach to their problems. Like my fictional vice principal, I cared about all of them. In the end, that’s the most important quality you want in an administrator! 

  • Click here or on the cover for the Amazon link.  *Please note:  I am not an Amazon affiliate.  I just think you should get your hands on this book!
  • If you'd prefer not to purchase from Amazon, you can contact Lenore at one of her websites below and order it directly from her ($17.00 + $3.19 shipping.)  You can also check out some of the other books she's written!



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