November 13, 2010 by readlisaread
I’ve been thinking a lot about Leadership again lately. Funny how it crops up so often. In the past I never really thought about it that much, until I had occasion to actually study theories of Leadership, and read Goleman’s Primal Leadership (a book that honestly did change my life– I still remember the profound moment when just reading the forward brought tears to my eyes)– I had not realized Leadership could be so much more and so much greater than I had experienced.
Like many teachers, when I started teaching, I brought with me a lot of experiential “truths”: The Principal is the Boss of the School; Teachers are the Boss of the classroom; Bullies are the Boss of the Playground. I got my first teaching job in the early 1990’s, right at the beginning of a major shift in Education. Technology was rapidly increasing, philosophy and learning theory was undergoing major growth, and we all began to look at children in our classes differently. When I started work, I had a number of colleagues who had started their careers with The Strap, segregation, a school nurse on staff and a Gestetner in the office.
Over the 15 or so years that I’ve been in the field, most of the “Old School” generation has retired, and we have gradually moved towards a new model of how we educate students, and how we work as an organization. There is a note of common knowledge that we share: “Educational Change happens at a Glacial Pace”. So too does Leadership Theory.
When I arrived at Middle School 4 years ago, it was to work for the first time with a Principal younger than any I had worked with before–younger, even, than myself (at least, I think so–he won’t tell us how old he is). I had great hopes for a fresh beginning in a career that had started to stale for me. I embraced the energy of Middle Schoolers, and began to learn, all over again, how to do this job.
Gradually, however, it became apparent that some things don’t change. This “new” “young” “avant garde” administrator with a reputation for being “techy” was no different than any of the other administrators I’d known at the Retirement Graveyard I’d worked at previously. He refers to himself, frequently, as our “Boss”, tells us that while sometimes he welcomes our input, final decisions and occasionally independent decisions will be made by him, he treats disagreement as an opportunity for a pissing match, and is absolutely Machiavellian in his staff relations. And the “techy” bit? He adds music to PowerPoints and has FaceBook and Twitter blocked from the school Intranet. W00t.
So, yes, it’s easy to complain, and passively-aggressively Blog about the shortcomings of Princes like this one, but I think I have a responsibility here. The Boss of the school is the Student; the Boss of the classroom is the Curriculum; and the Boss of the playground and the building is the Prince (who is acting like a bully). I’m starting to see a pattern emerging. The Prince is really Schneider. And my job is to lead quietly and under the radar……Guerrilla Teaching, FTW.