(Editors note: I write in this space primarily for me. Putting down my thoughts for others to read…or not, allows me to own my words and makes me more transparent….for what that is worth)
I sometimes become frustrated about administrating in a public school. I guess it is especially easy to be frustrated at the end of a school year. The students are burnt out. The teachers are ready for some time off to recharge. People get testy at the end of a school year. In these austere times, school personnel wonder about next year as it looms on the horizon. There are openings to fill, school program changes to be made, and assignments to be given. The end of this year is different though. Not only are there positions to fill, and life changing decisions to be made, along with those, Board members and administration are being forced to make tough decisions about our new school building as our budget is not big enough to cover everything we want. A quote that runs through my mind in times like these comes from John Kennedy when he examined his authorization of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, “Victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan.” When things go well and there are not tough messages to give to people, it is easy to take credit. When it comes to explaining things people do not want to hear, well let’s just say the rats jump ship and you can feel all alone pretty quick. Situations such as these challenge school leaders. There are easy(ier) ways to navigate problem laden times. One can make politically correct decisions and try to keep as many people happy as possible (an approach that usually fails based on experience.) Oh, on a short term basis doing things this way works, but if one’s core values are based on what is best for the students and the general direction of the institution, doing things the easy way usually falls short of fulfilling the most important mission….KIDS FIRST! It is hard to keep the focus where it needs to be. Many times it is easier to find ways to deflect blame and take credit in the name of self preservation, but more often than not, doing so goes against the core values that make a school good for kids. So….back to the beginning of the rambling post, I am frustrated, and I know why. When faced with situations that challenge the core values established by the self and the institution, a leader knows what must be done but is tempted to take the easy road and shirk responsibility. The further school leaders allow themselves to drift away from the classroom and the daily ups and downs of leading the learning process, the easier it is to move away from the core values that matter and gravitate to decisions that are based on political expediency. I think sometimes I have allowed myself to drift dangerously far away from what is important in the school and that I must re-dedicate myself to staying close to the learning processes and students as well as challenge myself to stay true to the core values that make school a great place for students.