We aren't always privy to the vast amount of information that goes into someone else's decisions. I think my students probably feel that way often too. They don't understand that when I make a choice in our classroom, I have considered every angle I can think of and made the best choice with the information that I had available to me at that time. It doesn't always make people happy, but it's also necessary to make those "executive decisions" sometimes.
In the last couple of years, I have continued to lament that I do NOT want to be a principal (yes, that is capitalized, bolded and underlined to really emphasize how much I was like no no no!). What's really funny is that other people have told me for years that I should be a formal leader because I am so good with people. I have doubted that in myself because sometimes I don't make the best decision, sometimes I let my emotions lead me. Interestingly, someone recently told me that knowing that about myself is why I should pursue formal leadership. She said, "Being authentic and vulnerable about your own weaknesses will speak to people. They won't feel like they have to be perfect for you because you are willing to admit to yourself and those around you, that you aren't perfect."
Truthfully, I hadn't really considered that before. A few years ago in one of my courses for my doctoral program, we had to create a leadership ladder. I know I saved that file, but I am unable to locate it at the moment. I do remember that we had to put our leadership priorities upward meaning the least important was at the bottom and as you "climbed the ladder" they got more important to you. I remember when I turned mine in, my professor was surprised at the choices I had made in terms of the order I had put them in. I know vulnerability and transparency were toward the top.
All these years later, as I have engaged in teacher leadership work, in two different schools, I feel even more strongly that these areas are the key to good leadership. It's easy to say we are transparent, but I think it's also important to recognize when other people do not think we are being as transparent as we say we are. It's a fine line. I haven't had to dance that line, but I know that I will and I really hope I don't lose sight of what is has been like to be in the teacher's seat and feel like you were misled or that someone wasn't honest with you.
A very dear friend of mine and I have had many conversations about possibly pursuing leadership opportunities. One thing she voiced was that she was afraid she would get to that position and forget what it felt like to be the teacher and that's why she hasn't pursued formal leadership such as an assistant principal or principal position. I have to admit I have that fear too.
I wish I could sit here and type this and say that I have always been treated fairly, that every administrator I have ever worked for has been 100% honest and up front about everything. But if I said that, I would be lying. I'm not a liar. To be fair, I have worked with some really amazing administrators. I have also worked for some who are not honest or transparent in their decisions or they say things that they can't really follow through on and I don't ever want to be like that. These behaviors simply lead to distrust and feeling like you aren't really valued. You can repeat over and over that you value someone, but the actions you take will be what shows those people if they really are valued.
Again, I do not pretend to know everything that has to go behind an administrator's decision and unless I have the exact same information and frame of reference as the person making the decisions, I probably wouldn't make the same choices. However, I do think that as I look to transition from a classroom to a formal leadership role, that I want to keep that at my forefront. I never want to treat someone in a way that I wouldn't want to be treated. We are all human beings first. We all have feelings and emotions and battle scars. We have to be honest, respectful and truthful.
I vow that as I pursue opportunities that will allow me to make a larger impact than in just one classroom with four walls, that I do not lose sight of who I really am and who I really want to be. I read a story about a man who stuck to his morals because he said once you compromise who you are, even if its just once, you're now someone who can be compromised. That has never left my mind. I don't want to be someone who can be compromised. I want to be someone who is always genuine, honest and vulnerable.