A few posts ago I wrote about the “philharmonic” school. The notion that schools could be administered by teachers. Elsewhere I’ve written about A.S. Neill’s Summerhill and the notion that schools could be administered by the students. One of my current hobbyhorses is the false equation being made by an number of authors (often those purveyors of “leadership porn”) between administration and leadership. Indeed, the two seem increasingly interchangable, i.e., Principal = Educational Leader or Curriculum Leader or Pedagogical Leader. I’m frequently aghast when I hear younger teachers refer to themselves as an “aspiring educational leader” when clearly what they really mean is “aspiring educational administrator”.
From where I’m sitting this equation seems pretty absurd. A Principal or VP can’t realistically aspire to being a curriculum leader. There just too much curriculum to cover. Also, given the exigencies of institutional education, the idea that pedagogical leaders will become ed admin is increasingly far fetched. (Most educational hierarchies do NOT reward independent thinking and risk taking. The two hallmarks of pedagogical leadership.) Being a good educational administrator does NOT require that you be an educational leader. Indeed, they have almost nothing to do with one another. Rather let’s talk about the set of behaviours that make a good leader and then use them as criteria for admin selection.
Below, you’ll find Simon Sinek’s TEDtalk entitled “Why Good Leaders Make Us Feel Safe”. I encourage you to watch it. Below that you’ll find an infographic on perception and trust between junior admin and teachers. Enlightening.
Here are a couple of questions to guide your thinking as you watch the video. When was the last time your admin made you feel safe? When was the last time you heard of admin “having your back” when it came to taking risks, or sticking your neck out (they call it sticking your neck out for a reason? Moreover, if you happen to be a school administrator when was the last time you felt protected by senior admin?
Watch the video. Check out the infographic. Write me a comment.