Since starting the certificate program this summer, I have been trying to get some new experiences regarding leadership and administration. As I volunteer for events, I have encountered different reactions from my coworkers.
- Surprise/Encouragement – Many of my coworkers are surprised, mostly because they had no idea being a principal was one of my goals. I usually tell them, that up until my master’s degree, I had not given it a lot of thought. These coworkers are supportive and usually have an encouraging word as we finish the conversation.
- Information Source – I have always been friendly with all my coworkers, but I have noticed more and more wanting to discuss school matters with me. My coworkers now feel that I have the inside scoop on school happenings and hope that I will pass some of this insight on to them.
- Principals’ Pet – Some coworkers see my volunteering in the office as a form of “brown nosing” or getting ahead. They talk about me “playing the game” as I come in early and stay late. My new assistant principal has experienced some of this talk as well, since she is only 26 and has already become an administrator.
I am not necessarily surprised by these reactions. I appreciate those members of the faculty and staff who have shown support for me in this endeavor. They seem genuine in their words of encouragement and hope that I will be successful.
From another perspective, it is interesting when people become friendly with you when they feel they might benefit from more than just your friendship. I am sure I have been guilty of fishing for information if I knew one of the interns well, but it feels different when people ask you questions in hushed tones. Former interns and professors warned me that these questions would occur. With this warning, I was also told that I only get one chance to mess up my professional reputation among my building administration. The building administration is helping you out by including you, and that can all change if they do not feel you are helping them in the process of running the school. I have learned a lot from being included in the opening weeks of school. Most staff have no idea the amount of work that goes into a smooth opening week, and don’t want to know since it is not gossip related.
The last perspective is one that can sting the most coming from coworkers. This perspective is a little more harsh because there is no positive way to spin it in my mind. Some coworkers will see you differently because you are working with the principals in the building. It seems almost like they now view me as a traitor because I have decided to work with people in the office rather than in the classroom beside me. My assistant principal and I have had a conversation about when job advancement turned into being a “goody-goody.” I believe this idea that young teachers have turned on their teaching profession because they look at administration as an option has its roots in jealousy. My assistant principal is very quick to correct people who imply I know how to work the system, by saying how productive we have been in the office.
As I have read some of the other blogposts that mention leaders and followers, it seems that many of the same thoughts apply here. Those individuals that make the best leaders know when it is appropriate to be quiet and follow. Some teachers may say that up and coming administrators are playing by the rules in a negative way, but they feel this way because they do not know what the rules are. Those people who are supportive in my endeavors are those who have themselves sought job advancement or are those who are not threatened by those who work hard. The main thought I take away from these interactions with my coworkers is to remember to foster and support those staff members who look for opportunities. They are the coworkers who will remain helpful and supportive especially when new ideas arise and need to be implemented.