Thursday, September 11, 2008

Taking Care of Administrators

First I read Being an Educational Leader by Kelly Christopherson where he asks the question “When do I get to be that Educational Leader I so desperately wanted to be?” Then I watched He Was Me by Peter Reynolds, which is a story “about the inner child in all of us, and the eternal struggle to retain our sense of self in a busy world.”

Both of these made me realize that it is hard being an educator and that people outside the educational field really don’t understand. Part of our inner child is what makes us the educators that we are and we need to make sure that we don’t lose it. We also need to make sure that we don’t lose sight of the world from a child’s eyes because that is what is important. We need to be able to help our students learn from their childhood, live in their present lives, and look to the future. I began to wonder if I’ve become jaded and cynical now that I am a veteran teacher and maybe that is where some of the negative remarks I’ve made come from. I really love being around preservice teachers and new teachers because I felt their energy and enthusiasm was really catching. Maybe this is what we need to retain good teachers (both new and veteran). We need to make sure that both experience levels don’t lose their inner self.

Then when you realize your inner self, how do become what you wanted to be? Do many people have big ideas and dreams but then sell out to the status quo because it is the easier route? Their lives become filled with responsibilities and expectations that can overwhelm them to a point of paralysis. I remember when I wanted to be on every committee, and try every project and be everything to everyone but this was an impossible goal that I set for myself. With experience, I learned that I couldn’t please all of the people all of the time and just needed to do the best that I could. Being on every committee, doing every project, and trying to please everyone was not really doing the best I could but it was hard to face up to this. I had to see other people’s strengths and rely on them so that I could use my strengths in the most effective and efficient way. It doesn’t do any of my students any good if I was run ragged and ruin my own health thinking that was the way to show how committed I was. Of course, this made me think of how administrators practically live at the high school. My husband and I always joke about they must not have a life because there is something going on constantly where an administrator has to be in attendance. They couldn’t pay me enough to be an administrator!

I hope and pray that we have more administrators like Kelly Christopherson, who ask themselves questions in order to meet their goals. Is this not the model we want teachers and students to follow? He wants to “walk the talk” but all the other things are getting in the way and keeping him from doing all the things he wants to do. He talks about connecting with the faculty and the students who I’m sure love having an administrator who is seen in person rather than just someone in the background making policies. I wonder if the faculty likes this, what they are doing to ease his burden. Maybe they need to ask him if there is anything they can do to help. Maybe they need to take the initiative to do things before he asks them to do something. Don’t we love it when our students do this? Every year I knew my principal needed a report done and started to get it done before he asked for it. Imagine his surprise when he asked for it and I was able to send it to him in an email immediately. He didn’t have to worry about me getting it done and he didn’t have to chase me down to get it. I know it didn’t seem like a big deal, but he told me that it really freed him up to do other things.

I know that I’ve blogged about taking care of our students and taking care of our teachers but this made me realize that we also need to take care of our administrators. Many teachers complain about their administrators they don’t like but I wonder if sometimes we don’t have a lot to choose from. Let’s face it, being an administrator is a big responsibility and takes up a lot of their time away from their personal lives. When we get a good administrator, what are we doing to make sure we keep them? I think good administrators are hard to find and keep. Besides that, a happy administrator sure makes the life of a teacher much easier.

What do you think? Do you know of some suggestions on how we can help our administrators? Do you think we should or not?

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