When I reflect on my years as a School Principal, I try to do it without any bent for judgement or shame.
The truth is, I was pretty much always doing the best I could with what I had at the time. There are many things I’ve discovered in the eight years since I founded Real Schools that would have been handy when I was a Prin.
What I now know to have been a shortcoming in my leadership was my own deep knowledge about what I was asking others to implement.
I semi-routinely found myself asking others to implement writing, spelling and numeracy programs that I didn’t even deeply understand myself. I’m now convinced that this eroded my teachers’ confidence.
Having not seen me struggle just a bit or be able to refer to the contextual implications of a program in our unique setting, my teachers often sought to comply with the basics of the program rather than to embed it creatively.
And really, that was my fault.
Most School Leaders bemoan their teachers’ reluctance to step up from time to time. I’m in that club too. But most School Leaders also fail to see their teachers’ confidence as a function of their own knowledge gaps about what they are asking teachers to do.
On too many occasions, we’re asking them to do things that we’re avoiding ourselves – and everyone gets nervous about going first when there’s something new to be done.
Leadership is about going first and instilling confidence thereby.
School Leaders, this begins by knowing your stuff. Don’t sneak away from PL Days to catch up on admin. It’s telling your teachers that you think you already know … and they know that you don’t.
Then show them that you know your stuff by teaching it occasionally. A confident teaching staff is a worthy reward for the brief jolt to the ego that comes from a moment of classroom vulnerability.