The principal of a midwestern public high school participated in a Reddit "Ask me almost anything" last week, offering insight into the nature of his job, as well as his opinion on teachers unions, charter schools and the craziest school prank he's ever witnessed.

Reddit user "Ppal" says he is in his 14th year as an educator and sixth as a principal at a school of about 600 students.

"I love my job, my students, my staff, and my profession," he writes.

Check out the slideshow below to see some of his responses, and click on over to Reddit to see the complete Q&A.

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  • What do you actually do for most of the day?

    "I am in <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/139uc0/iama_high_school_principal_amaa/">hallways between classes</a> — my presence affects the building climate and behavior; I observe and provide feedback of instruction daily; I address discipline referrals; I track down every single unexcused student absence and multiple tardiness; I approve purchase requests; I supervise and evaluate over 60 teachers, 6 custodians, 3 administrative assistants, 10 educational assistants, several psychs, counselors, etc.; I respond to parent emails and phone calls; I intervene many times all day long with student "drama" and crises of all sorts. These are "daily" tasks that don't address the budget, course guide, curricula, departmental classes and course offerings, IEP meetings, school board meetings, building goals, administrative team meetings, RtI implementation, student intervention team meetings, community ATODA task force initiative, scholarship review, etc. The list is seemingly never-ending. And kind of depressing at times."

  • Craziest situation that has occurred in your years as an educator? It could be anything ...

    "Wow, not even sure where to start on this one. I once had a senior near graduation discreetly <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/139uc0/iama_high_school_principal_amaa/">release a flock of pigeons</a> in the upstairs hallway. We once had a HUGE pile of manure dumped on one of the entire building entrances. I've experienced deer carcasses in the building, strung out incoherently intoxicated students, among other wacky incidents."

  • Have you ever had to enforce a rule but didn't want to or felt guilty about it?

    "For sure. I can think of an incident where one student punched another student who happened to be a student with a history of bullying/harassment type issues. The <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/139uc0/iama_high_school_principal_amaa/">kid pretty much deserved it</a>, but the kid who threw the punch was disciplined both via school consequences and police consequences."

  • Are there drug problems you're aware of at school, and if so, any interesting stories?

    "I think schools are microcosms of the towns/communities of which they exist. The better question is probably related to drug problems in our greater community. The answer: definitely. Even <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/139uc0/iama_high_school_principal_amaa/">pot is a major issue if it interferes with learning</a> (which it oftentimes does in habitual users)."

  • Do you think that it's possible that when you are evaluating teachers, they 'fake' being good until you leave? One of my past teachers said that if we don't 'act' like we are learning while the principal in in the room, he would assign [a lot] of homework

    "If I were only in classrooms once every two months on a scheduled basis, sure. But I <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/139uc0/iama_high_school_principal_amaa/">pop in unannounced all the time</a>. It's hard to fake that."

  • How do you feel about teachers' unions? Do you think that they are helpful or harmful towards education? That said, how do you feel about giving high school teachers tenure? Do you wish you could fire some and keep the good ones?

    "I have some mixed feelings about teachers unions. Full disclosure: my wife is a teacher and belongs to a union. I believe that teachers and other educational staff should have <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/139uc0/iama_high_school_principal_amaa/">the right to unionize</a>. Truthfully, I believe that weak administrators are a bigger barrier to removing poor teachers than are the unions themselves. The union in the district I work is excellent — they have great leadership, they work collaboratively with the school board and administration, and they have yet to get in my way when it comes to dealing with staff that need to go. In regards to tenure: I just don't think it's necessary. Good instructors have very little to worry about anyway, in my experience."

  • How do you feel about the No Child Left Behind act?

    "It didn't work, which was predicted from day 1. <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/139uc0/iama_high_school_principal_amaa/">Unrealistic expectation</a>."

  • How do you feel about charter public schools?

    "I've never worked in one and don't have any firsthand experience; however, contrary to some legislative/political belief, <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/139uc0/iama_high_school_principal_amaa/">charter schools are not the magical answer</a> to large, failing urban high schools."

  • What is your approach to teacher performance evaluation? How do you measure student outcomes, and how much pressure do you get to achieve certain test scores, etc.?

    "I'm a believer that <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/139uc0/iama_high_school_principal_amaa/">school is about LEARNING</a>. Not homework or busy work completion. Not chasing an arbitrary percentage grade that is then transformed into an oftentimes more arbitrary letter grade, which may or may not be a valid reflection of actual learning. There is still so much ... in education that needs to evolve and overcome years of antiquated bad 'factory model' practice from traditional high school service delivery. If teachers are on board with my philosophy about learning and subsequently demonstrate it via classroom practice, performance evaluation is then an easy rubber stamp."

  • What drove you to select becoming a principal?

    "When I started in my first year of my career as an educator 13 years ago, I had a principal who could not connect with kids or with staff, was weak with student management, and was overall just plain ineffective. I realized that year that my <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/139uc0/iama_high_school_principal_amaa/">greatest means to make a large difference in kids</a> could/would be as a principal ... but one who would do many things differently than this guy was doing. I worked with him another four years before I left that district for another district."

  • As a current procrastinating high school student who uses Reddit to cope with school life, how do you do it?

    "Find a balance. I'm a principal <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/139uc0/iama_high_school_principal_amaa/">who also uses reddit</a>, plays Xbox, WoW, etc. Do what you need to do first, and reward yourself with what you like to do afterwards. Google 'Premack Principle.' Now live it."

  • How do you encourage an 'esprit de corps' in your school? My daughter goes to a private school and there are currently a significant student unrest and at least 25 percent of the students in her year are looking for alternate schools to transfer to.

    "I have a rule that all incoming <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/139uc0/iama_high_school_principal_amaa/">9th graders must join at least one co-curricular activity, sport, or club</a>. Whether you play soccer, participate in the Xbox Gaming Club, or are part of the FFA, I could care less. I just want kids to be connected to the school in more ways than just the 7 hours of daily class work. This way, kids feel connected and want to be there, which is hugely important obviously."