Duties as Assigned
(2) A vice-principal shall perform such duties as
are assigned to the vice-principal by the principal.
Reg 613 (revised from Reg. 298) Ontario Education Act
There are few things in public education that are defined with the brevity and clarity as the job description of a school vice principal (aka: Assistant Principal). There is a great irony in this since there are fewer things as complex as the work that is done daily in schools, and no single role that is as deliciously delicate as that of school principal. In Ontario Education Act, the description of the school principal’s duties occupies 2 and half pages (with 49 separate clauses) of the document. For the Vice Principal; there are 3 clauses that essentially state: “do what your principal tells you to do.”
That is not to say that school VP’s have no duties or responsibilities, we have many. We also have rich opportunities to explore formal school leadership in a side by side context that is quite unique~ not unlike being schooled in the ways of the Force. Becoming a school principal is a complex and reflective process that requires a great deal of immersion~much more that one can get by just watching the examples we have had as students, teachers or in the media. Sure, I can relate better to some things I’ve seen prior to my becoming a VP, but let’s face it, Mr. Woodman from Welcome Back Kotter or Glee’s Mr. Figgins are not truly accurate representations of what principals actually do.
In my 4 years in the role of vice principal I’ve worked with 5 separate principals in (now) 3 different school contexts and have learned a great deal from each and all. I say ‘now’ because I recently received a visit from my superintendent in which he informed me that I’d be, henceforth, sharing my time with 2 schools. There are occasions in our district where enrollment numbers and system need require shared VP’s and this opportunity was deemed an ideal one for me.
It is important for me to note that, job description aside, I see the role of the school vice principal to be critical for three reasons and each reason connects both school-thinking and system-thinking quite neatly in my mind. I see vice principals to have the following roles:
- Use their knowledge, skills and passions to provide instructional leadership in schools and within systems in concert with the school principal and under the direction of the school superintendent;
- Develop the requisite knowledge and skills necessary to perform the role of school principal in preparation for the assumption of that role; and
- Experience as many different contexts for school and system leadership in order to deepen and expand their professional relationships and personal network.
To be honest, many of my friends and colleagues looked upon me with a degree of pity to hear the news of my assignment. Setting aside the hair shirt, working in two school sites is, at the core, a great learning opportunity. And that is how I’m approaching it.