After reading Teach Like A Pirate and seeing Dave Burgess in March, I have taken a whole different approach to being a principal. I like to think that I always did what was best for students, but maybe I was missing something. I now think more about the “experience” instead of the lesson. I am more open to doing the outrageous in front of the students, and for the students’ sake than I previously was. I want them to remember their experiences at our school and remember me as someone who inspired and engaged them.
For many years I worked with students with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. Although I held them to high standards, I always thought it was important that they see me as someone who was going to make the rules and keep them in line. I also believe that it was important that these students, who could be very dangerous and violent, believed that I was “a little crazier” than they were. They often commented, “ That Mr. Billy is crazy, you never know what he is going to do.” This seemed to work for me and help me to communicate with the students. Eventually, most of these students began to respect and like me (notice I say most). They trusted me and believed I was there to help them.
Dave Burgess helped me to step back into the mode of “Making it an experience”. Being an elementary principal is not so different than working with students who have emotional and behavioral issues. I need to build a rapport with them and provide them with enthusiastic leadership. I need to catch their attention and make them believe that they going to be fully engaged and enthralled with everything that goes on during the day. Whether I am riding the bicycle down the hall to deliver mail to the students, singing as the students get off of the bus in the morning, doing cartwheels across the kindergarten classroom, or using the megaphone into the loudspeaker to make announcements, I want the students to say, “That Mr. Billy is crazy, you never know what he is going to do.” And . . . “We love him.”
Thank you Dave Burgess for helping me see the way. It was always in my head, but now I let it out and it helps me connect with the kids. I will continue to try to create the “experience” that elementary school should be.