When I decided to undertake the study of English Literature during college, it was always with the intention of becoming a teacher. From my first moments in the classroom; teaching Beowulf to 11th grade students, I knew I would be a teacher for the rest of my life. There is no doubt that teaching is a challenge. There are few who will argue that statement and those of us who teach on a daily basis fully understand the time and effort it takes to become an excellent teacher.
After teaching for several years, I began a study of school administration, with the intention of becoming a school leader. Once I earned my degree, it was time for me to consider how I wanted to continue my career and how I could advance with a role in a school’s administration. I did realize, right from the start, that when someone moves into the role of school administrator, their scope of influence over the climate of the school becomes greater, as does their own power to undertake change within the school community. There is no one person is a school building who plays more of a role in developing and cultivating the climate and culture of an individual school than the Head of School. As Head of School, it is my daily goal to inspire others and work to encourage learning.
I fully believe that the best part of continuing education happens within the classroom setting, fostered in the interaction between teacher and student. That is why I continue to teach. As a teacher as well as a school administrator, I disagree with those who say administrators cannot be effective teachers. I have worked in two private schools where the administrators, myself included, have taught classes and have been some of the most engaging teachers in the school. In no way did it impede or intrude on their ability or on my own ability to be an effective administrator; in fact it often led to more compassionate and understanding administrators. Do school administrators who teach have to be flexible people? Without a doubt. Does their schedule need to be given special consideration at times and should their students know to expect, on occasion, a minor bump in the road, should an administrative issue arise? Of course. However, it can be done, and it can benefit the overall school community.
As a school administrator, I want my teachers to embrace new and exciting teaching methods, to encourage the use of technology, to explore cross curricular lessons and to engage in interactive learning experiences within the classroom. How do I best inspire them to do these things? The answer is simple, by doing it myself. As a school administrator, the best thing I do every single day is lead by example and model what a teacher should be.
The group of stakeholders who are, arguably, most important to any school setting are the students sitting in classrooms each day. Being a classroom teacher as well as an administrator allows my students to see me in a different light. I am not some person behind an office door; I am in the classroom-motivating, teaching, and learning from them each day, about how they learn best. I may be an administrator for the rest of my career in education, but I am at heart, a teacher. Being in the classroom each day allows me to more fully appreciate my entire student body and it motivates me to work harder in my administrative role to make sure that every opportunity is afforded to them.