The sweet and sour aspects of leadership.
Recently, my co-hosts on the PrincipalCast Podcast discussed how being a principal was the greatest job in the world. We were able to spend 45 minutes discussing how awesome it is being a principal, the rewards, and the responsibility. I’m sure we could have went 45 more minutes discussing this topic. It was easy! But how do we really know the rewards without truly understanding the challenges. The sour aspects of being a principal.
For starters, being a principal is mentally and physically tasking. We work long hours, are required to wear many hats, and deal with a range of stakeholders who all have a say in the direction of the school. We are required to be part of a system, and many struggle with the fact that “our” school is not “our” school. If we are in public schools, then we have a Board of Education, State and Federal Department of Education that have a huge impact on our school. In the private education world, principals have Boards of Trustees, dioceses, and other governing bodies to consider.
It is often understated that principals are dealing with the pride and joy of parents. I’m sure it’s not hard to visualize the parent who couldn’t imagine their son/daughter engaging in behavior that would cause them to end up in your office. Or the parent that has waved the white flag even though their child is only 8 years old. Parents express their concerns with the school in many ways, and I am sure you have hear of the various “you can’t make this up” stories.
Principals are faced with many challenges that require a deeper understanding of the human condition. You never really understand the complexities of this until your sitting at your desk and someone comes in and closes the door because they need to “talk.” These closed door talks could range from needing to get out of work early to classroom management struggles, questions about an observations, or even to cancer, or even death of a family member. Life happens and teachers need the principal to be understanding, and aware of their staff’s situations. It always amazes me the responsibilities that are piled on teachers outside of the school day.
Accidents happen, mistakes are made, disagreements and challenges are thrown are way every day. Many on the outside walk by the principal’s office and say, “I would never want that job” while others say, “I could do that job so much better” and still others say, “I want to do what I can to make their job more enjoyable.”
Still we press on.