Friday, February 22, 2008

educational leadership

One of my coworkers/mentors just started working on her masters in administration. This thrills me because she would make the type of principal I would work for in a heartbeat. I go to her with problems frequently and her advice is always thoughtful and thorough, and most importantly, always delivered with a sense of humor. Before making judgements she asks questions and examines a situation from all sides before giving her final opinion. I have the utmost respect for her, and hope she will be successful in her grad work.

The stories of her grad school peers terrify me however. She describes overly ambitious people who rarely listen to their group members or others. They answer questions quickly and make decisions instantly, trying to prove that leadership comes from the shiniest apple or loudest mouth. They seem to be focused on short-term efficiency and long-term recognition.

The more she talks about them the more I shudder. These people want to be principals? They don't exhibit any of the qualities I would want to work under. They don't seem to understand the meaning of 'team work', nor do they understand that yes, while efficiency is important, so is being efficiently correct. Incorrect, snap decisions based on little facts or personal opinions aren't going to be efficient in the long-run. Being the loudest in the room does not make you a leader. Being the rudest doesn't make you a leader either, even if it does cut other people off at the knees.

I've worked for a principal like that. I don't plan on doing it again.

What disturbs me the most is that this kind of behavior sounds like it is encouraged in her class. These students are praised for their 'leadership' and willingness to speak out. They seem to be stepping up to what the college is deeming as 'leadership qualities'. Those can't really be the leadership qualities our principals are being trained to have, are they?

A bad administrator can fill a school with fabulous teaches and then suck their will to live right out of them with belittling, micromanagement, and rash decisions. It doesn't matter what kind of fabulous strategies those teachers are using in the classroom, if an administrator is poisoning a school's environment those teachers will lose their passion and their ability to create powerful lessons to inspire students.

I once had an admistrator (fresh out of an admin program) say to a room full of teachers (who she was suppose to be congratulating) "Look how successful you were because of all I gave you". Is that the type of "leadership" admin programs are producing?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

One of the administrative """wonders""" from my past once wouldn't let me leave early from a teacher's meeting to get to a last minute doctor appt. The reason? She had something she wanted us all to learn together. I suppose the purpose was maybe, team building??? I don't know. The lesson taught to us that day? The macarana. I kid you not. I was fit to be tied. jan

organized chaos said...

that is ridiculous! I would have been furious!

Anonymous said...

You mean "shudder," not "shutter," right?

splatypus said...

I have been told of an administrator who insists on open doors (and will go down the hallway and open closed doors regardless of the teachers wishes or the activity at hand) and who collects ALL lesson plans at the end of the year. Talk about stressful. I consider us very lucky.

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