As a young teacher, I remember being warned of the dangers of becoming too isolated in the profession. Mentors spoke of the risk of closing the classroom door, and shutting off the world. I was encouraged to eat lunch in the teacher’s lounge, lean on others, ask for help, and make positive connections — avoiding those who spewed negativity. Sound advice.
Well, if teaching can be a lonely profession, life as a school administrator can feel like an assignment in Siberia. Even though I have a very supportive staff, and I am hopeful that I have established positive and trusting relationships, I have to admit that there are times that I feel like I am on an island — struggling to maintain contact with the mainland. The connections just aren’t the same as they were as a teacher (or even as an assistant principal) and I am still struggling to figure that out.
I sometimes make unpopular decisions, and I rarely make decisions that please everyone. I struggle with that, because I want people to be happy. I try desperately to keep things off my teachers’ plates, but ultimately I am often the one (not always by choice) that is piling it on. I genuinely want to be of assistance with classroom management and instruction, but that willingness to help may be tempered in the minds of staff members by the fact that I am an evaluator. Regardless of the level of trust, I am still “the principal,” and that makes me a bit different.
Certainly, my experience as a connected educator has been a lifeline when I feel isolated in my work — an opportunity to connect with others who have had similar experiences. As a school administrator, what do you do to get off the island? Am I way out in “left field” on this one? As always, your comments are welcome.