So another year starts and there are so many things to look forward to and so many things to consider. This is when I both miss my time in the classroom and are simultaneously so happy that I am a principal. There is a real dichotomy here I understand but worth a bit of an explanation.
I remember back to when I was in the classroom how much I loved the start of the year. It was a chance to try new things and to look at the same building and see new challenges and possibilities. I really miss teaching probably because of that immediate ability to try things. I did not have to convince anyone of the merits of what I wanted to do or try to gain consensus among staff. I just had to plan like crazy, maybe bounce some ideas off some of my trusted colleagues and then give it a try. I am somewhat impetuous by nature so this was a great career for me. I could try something on a Wednesday that came to me on Tuesday. I was able to be as creative as my energy level would allow.
This is what I miss some times as I sit in my office. I miss actually educating young people. I miss being able to just try my ideas and not worry about how they would “appear” or how to win people over. I could just try it. That is not the reality of a principal. Probably because my actions impact so many more people now and because more people try to read into my actions. Because of the more “public” reality of my job I have to weigh my actions more carefully and not “just try it”. I miss the classroom for so many reasons, but that is truly the most severe thing.
But there is another side to the coin, (as there is almost always is), and that is what is really the best part of the job. The best part is that my actions can have so much more impact from the office. Now my ideas can be shared with and improved when I share them with my teachers. We can engage in great discussions, (something that is incredibly rare for VPs), and figure out the best ways to implement things. We can even look beyond our school and see what we can do to change larger educational structures as well. We regularly talk about things like The Third Teacher, Student Voice, Skills Development and proper use of technology. We talk about these things and then look for ways to implement them into classroom work.
Now I should say that this is where is gets frustrating for me because I can’t be the one who executes the plan. I can’t make sure it gets done immediately. I have to abide by the timeline of those teachers that are in the classroom. There are times when I wish I could have a class and then try some of the ideas we talk about, but for now the principal’s chair does not allow that.
I once heard that the worst administrators are the ones that really want to be administrators. I guess the sentiment is that the worst admin are the ones that want out of the classroom. I suppose it is a good thing that I see myself as an “educational amputee” that still feels the itch from the limb that has been lost. In fact I would say that this is what I need to explore more in my second year as a principal. I have to continue to think about what would make classroom practice better AND look to use my increased “influence” to impact even more people and maybe even change the larger educational community.
Lots of stuff to consider as we start the year, but truly the only thing I have on my mind now is getting my staffing done, just another part of the principal’s chair.