I was sitting in my Superintendent's office a few weeks back for my annual review. We were discussing my progress on obtaining my Principal's Certificate. This is something I have been working on for several years, and I believe I have recently cleared the last hurdle in order to obtain it. It was during this conversation that he said something that has really had me thinking the last few weeks: "You seem to really enjoy teaching too much to become a Principal. You need to decide which you want."
These simple statements have had me really thinking since our meeting. What did he mean? Do all Principals want out of the classroom? Do I have to stop being a Teacher in order to lead them?
The title of Teacher is not something I take lightly. I am proud of my profession. I thoroughly enjoy going to work everyday. My daughter did not think I had a job when she was little because I told her everyday that "Daddy is off to school." She thought I traveled the yellow bus every morning like the other kids! I work very hard at constantly trying to improve my instruction and classroom environment. Even after 17 years, I find new things to get excited about when entering in September. These are things I do not want to give up...regardless of how much I would like to climb the Educational Ladder.
After a lot of contemplation, I view my Superintendent's comments with a hidden message: Do not forget how hard the teachers work in the building. Do not forget how they struggle everyday to keep a classroom full of students engaged and learning. Do not forget the frustration they feel when the state decides things need to change; even though the present method was working perfectly. Do not forget that they need feedback and coaching, never an evaluaton system that is a "Gotch!" form of assigning a number to their performance. Never forget that even though they are adults, Teachers need a role model in the building that reflects a positive message throughout the building. That role model is their leader.
My view of a Leader contains a lot of the same characteristics described above. That leader has a larger role when becoming a Principal, but the core traits remain the same. The individuals you are leading have grown in number and age, but they are looking for someone that challenges them and is fair. That sounds a lot like how I run my classroom. I hope I never stop being called a Teacher, regardless of what job I may have. To me, there is only a couple of words that are better: a Husband and a Father.