Friday, October 09, 2009

Harmony Constant

Wednesday night, I sat in the library of my son's school, awaiting the opportunity to meet and greet our district's new superintendent. Was I there as a teacher? A parent? A concerned citizen? Sometimes I have a hard time making the distinction. I suspect that, in the end, it doesn't really matter much. I was part of the community that was welcoming a new cog to the machine.
At the end of the evening the wife of our school board member, who once served as a substitute principal at our school for a couple of days, asked me if I had my administrative credential. I told her that I had considered, from time to time, the possibility of doing the requisite coursework and the chance to move up on the educational scale. Then we shared a little joke that we teachers sometimes share about "joining the dark side." We always do this with a wink and a smile, keeping in mind that the job of a principal is one that fills us all with dread. Then there's the romantic ideal somehow becoming a principal would be a betrayal of all the things that made me a teacher in the first place.
But that's not really true. I know, because I have had the opportunity to work with a great many principals in my thirteen years as a teacher and parent. In our dreams, we all want to work with Morgan Freeman in "Lean On Me," but the reality is that working for Joe Clark wouldn't be any fun at all. Probably a lot less singing, anyway.
What would it be like working for me? I would probably keep the bullhorn. But the part that keeps me "in the trenches" is the notion that I don't know who is behind me. If I leave, who will fill my slot? I'm not arrogant enough to imagine that there aren't hundreds of qualified, exceptional teachers out there who would take my position and make it dance and sing like I never could. I know that there are a lot of less-qualified types looking for an easy gig, who might show up and give our kids less than they deserve. In this equation, I am the constant, and as long as they periodically let me use the bullhorn, I'll be satisfied.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"But the part that keeps me "in the trenches" is the notion that I don't know who is behind me. If I leave, who will fill my slot?"

As a principal wouldn't you have the opportunity (or even the responsibility) to tend the teacher pipeline? To identify and grow potentially great teachers? Wouldn't that allow you to scale your own abilities beyond the limits of one person's 24x7? Perhaps these days that's just part of the romantic view of a principal's job.