2. The Principal: The Person and the Profession
Beginning with a pessimistic picture of the myriad challenges facing a prospective school administrator in the current complex instructional climate, this chapter deals chiefly with the structure of character, knowledge, and capability that a principal must have in order to be effective in his or her job. It is fundamental for a would-be principal to recognize that a principal's real operational duties rarely coincide with an official job description because the personalities and issues relevant to running a particular school--and balancing duties with interested outside institutions--develop a life of their own with which the principal is forced to cope. Even so, a principal must factor into his or her daily role a foundational knowledge of institutional as well as theoretical protocols that have grown up around the profession. The implication is that only with a knowledge-base foundation and the benefit of research and theoretical guidelines that have emerged, particularly in recent years, can a principal attack a given job on an informed basis.
As with other chapters throughout the text, this one places some faith in established expert systems, particularly organizations that offer professional-development help and support, notably the Association of School Business Officials, National Association of Elementary School Principals, and Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium. The purpose of supplying contact information for such groups appears to be to reassure a prospective principal that there are real-world resources available for enabling the individual to engage in an operationalized reality check on one hand, and a process of accessing expert systems for the purpose of assisting in making line decisions and formulating strategic methods on the other.
This dense chapter begins with a discussion of the permutations of leadership with a view toward establishing an appr...