As an administrator, one of my main roles is to be an educational leader in the school. Some days I’m not sure what exactly that means. In fact, over the past few weeks, I’m not sure exactly what I’m doing in this position and could have just as easily called this “Is it okay to cry now?”!
As the new year approached, I was looking forward to having a chance to really make some headway with some of the things that we have been addressing at the school, building on the new Code of Conduct that we have and addressing some areas that needed to be addressed. Instead, I’ve been taking heat over having the gym ceiling painted – it had the names of grads from previous years but wasn’t my choice – and just seeming to be out of align with things.
I know it’s only just over 2 weeks into the year but, for the first time in my career, I’m not sure I’m up to the challenges that lay ahead. I know that, each on their own isn’t really that big of a problem but things don’t seem to coming one by one. In fact, things are happening much faster than I’ve seen in previous years and by the time I know it, the weeks over and I’m trying to figure out where the week has gone.
Walking the talk
One of the things that I’ve always tried to do is “Walk the talk”. As an educational leader, I feel that it is important that I don’t just say “Well, this is how I think you should do it” or “Try this or that”. Instead, I want to model different teaching strategies, assessment strategies, the use of technology in learning and having an understanding of student learning. I know that, sometimes, it can be a tall order but that is part of leadership.
Another part of this is allowing others to lead in areas of their strengths and being able to recognize that, in many instances, you aren’t necessarily the best person to be directing. Instead, you need to allow others, using their strengths and talents, to use them to help build towards the ideal of creating the best possible education for all children.
The Eye of the Storm
As the days rush by, it seems almost impossible to get any type of bearing on what is happening and where things need to go next. I can honestly say, I’ve stood in my office wondering what exactly I need to do next. It’s not like I don’t have a list that goes out the door but there seems to be a barrage of things that just doesn’t stop and the requests and paperwork are non-ending. With all this going on, I often wonder “When do I get to be that Educational Leader I so desperately wanted to be?”
No, really. When is it that, as an administrator that teaches, I will find the time to do my walk-throughs, discuss lessons with teachers, meet with teachers about their Professional Growth Plans, discuss with the new teachers (5 in my building this year) how things are going and just simply be present in the school? I made a pact with myself that, to be a leader, I had to be visible and, to be visible, I had to be out of my office. So far, I’m not doing so well. With a new vice-principal, I’m trying to model how you need to be visible to the students and the staff but, some days, well, it’s just not happening.
Is it possible?
I always have thought that part of what has made me a better administrator is the fact that, each day, I go into a classroom and try to capture the attention of students to help them grow and stretch, to ask themselves questions and question what is going on in their lives and the world around them. As I look at the weeks coming up and ALL the items that are clogging my ical todo list, I wonder if it has reached the time when being a teaching principal may not be feasible if I want to continue to an educational leader of quality.
Or is it just the beginning of the year madness? Once all the various things fall into place, I’ll see that this was no different than other years and, really, I’m just as able to do the things I see as necessary as a leader as I was before. Or was I? You see, that’s the crux? Would I be able to perform my role better if, in fact, I didn’t teach? Although it would distance me from the students, would it really affect my ability to perform my duties as an administrator? And are these duties different from being an educational leader? Should the two be separate titles or jobs? One where the administration of the school is the focus and the other where the development of teachers is the focus? Or should I even worry about the development of teachers? Is that the role for someone else? But, if I’m doing walk-throughs and classroom visits, isn’t teacher growth inherent in that type of relationship?
I just don’t know
Really, I don’t. My incredible PLN on Plurk has been there for me over this past few weeks, encouraging me as I struggle through this. They have been offering advice and just supporting me as I ask questions and look for some insights. As an administrator, it isn’t always easy to discuss these things with anyone. In fact, it is darn near impossible to do that without creating a bigger mess. It’s not like I’m looking at throwing in the towel or anything but there is a need to create some kind of balance which isn’t there right now and, given the different things going on, I’m not sure how to find it.
I want to be the best leader I can be. At times like this, I search for ways to improve what I’m doing and seek out the council of others hoping, that through this, I can continue to develop myself and continue to be an example to those around me of what life-long learning is all about.