What School Leaders Don't Want You To Know

Mr. Smith was my high school principal.  He was tall and had facial hair and seemed to be a competent school leader.  I think he drove a Honda.  Freshman year passed along to graduation four years later.

Was he a good principal?  I have no idea but after watching school leaders for over a decade, I know that he was probably as insecure as the next guy.

The Harvard Business Review ran a piece called Guilt Ridden People Make Great Leaders.  You can listen to author Frank Flynn's interview podcast here.

One of his points is simple enough- many leaders are insecure and that is precisely what motivates them to stay on their game.

So what do school leaders not want you to know?  Here are a few items from what I've seen lately:

  • Online education makes us nervous.  We like the idea of it and know that hybrid learning is the future but it's still grey around the edges.  The shift from brick and mortar to the internet is real and promising and scary.

  • 1 to 1 laptop programs are suspicious.  Having policed a school with laptops all over the place, I've seen firsthand the pluses and minuses of laptops for all.  Cool?  Yes.  Effective?  Yet to be proven.

  • Information overload is real. Our students need better resources for dealing with the texting, messaging and Facebooking.  To do research well (much less prayer), we need to help them master the ridiculous amounts of information they receive each day.  This could be the perfect GTD opportunity for students everywhere.

  • It's hard managing people. We receive zero training in grad school for what ultimately takes up much of our time.

  • We care about what people think of us. While our skin is thick, we actually do care what others think of us.  We tell our spouses at night what battles wounded us during the day.  A stiff upper lip during the day doesn't immunize us from the words that sting and mean to harm from detractors of progress or doubters of vision.

  • The night meetings have got to stop. Tell me another line of work that starts at 7am every day and carries through 100 nights for meetings.  Imagine using GoToMeeting instead of another committee meeting?  We're up for it.

  • We want to change education in dramatic ways. The systems of American education feel like gravity that holds students back.  We want to extend the school year.  We like longer school days.  Our ultimate dream is to change education so that kids learn.  We don't want to flirt with leading great schools- we want to champion the cause.

How do I know these things?  I know them because I'm no different from the rest.  I'm a passionate, guilt-ridden professional who has the privilege of leading a school.