More and more, I really think that leadership in schools is a tough gig. I said as much to my boss the other day and I am not at all sure that being a principal is where I'd want to be in X number of years. Looking at it more closely than I could when I was solely a classroom teacher has revealed it to be a thankless job where you are trying to guide a very disparate bunch of educators towards commonality of purpose within the school setting. Now, my job has a leadership component and I very much realise that I have heaps to learn in this area but the "big picture" aspect is one part I find very rewarding, but also extremely frustrating. This year, my role has me with my class four days a week and having that time with a bunch of kids reminds me of how totally absorbing the classroom teacher job is. To do really well at being well prepared, one must block out distractions with the end resulting in a form of oblivion to the rest of what's happening within the school or indeed, the whole education system. It's worlds away from "big picture" where notes in diaries, following yard issues, making sure there's enough crayons for the art lesson tales precedence over whether system goals are being met or whether technology is being integrated into the learning program. It's the world where if the printer doesn't work or if one child's logon in the computing room doesn't work then that's a big priority that demands immediate action. I, as a classroom teacher, don't really care what's happening across the school in a junior primary classroom because frankly, I've got a stack of stuff to do on my own plate.
But the school leader which pushes to the fore on my designated coordinator day and never really fades from view any other time has to take a different tack. I need to know some of what's happening around the whole school because effective use of ICT resources have to monitored, relevant T&D has to be provided for the staff and other administrative duties that help the classroom practitioners' lives tick along have to be attended to. That's a big juggle but I signed up for the extra responsibility and get the extra $$ in the pay packet as a result. But the principal has to spend all of their time balancing big and small picture - keeping the school as a whole moving towards its objectives, balancing and dripping down department expectations, knowing the kids well enough that any teacher who says little Johnny is being a pain and could you deal with it can be taken in stride. The principal has to put up with being called out across the staffroom mid-conversation and expected to nod excitedly at their coordinator's completion of a regulation task! I'm not sure I'm cut out for that role and luckily being in official leadership is not the only way to be a leader in education.
But... leadership is not easy.