When I first left teaching to become a school Principal, I secretly wondered if I was still an educator. After spending 12 years at the vanguard of the educational process, I believed that a teacher's vantage point was the only position from which to impact learning. I was wrong.
I found out that a Head of School has a surprisingly large ability to impact what goes on in the classroom. The effect is a little more indirect but the people you hire, the professional development you support, the culture you create and the respect that you demonstrate is scrutinized endlessly. The effect is difficult to measure on a daily basis but over a 3 or 5 year period there is no more impactful position at a school that its leadership.
As a Head of School I still considered myself a participant, never a pundit. People would ask me "what I believe" and I would quickly redirect to conversation to "watch what I do".
Now after 24 years as a teacher and school leader I come to a new position as Director of a gradate program in teacher preparation. Am I still an educator? Are my effects so indirect to be rendered superficial? Am I am "pundit" and if I was a teacher would I listen?
Last Friday was the end of my first season on the job, only 6 months but nevertheless a full campaign cycle with students completing their Montessori training, coming to Baltimore and finishing their Masters degree. For my part, I was involved in coordinating the show and participating as an instructor in two classes of advanced studies in education.
But it wasn't until the reception at the Dean's house on Friday that I understood the role I was playing. It turns out I am a matchmaker! I looked over the lawn and saw representatives of the 118 Montessori Teachers that completed their degrees in Montessori Education this year. I saw friendships being made, colleague relationships forming, ideas being shared, tears being shed and people in harmony. My role is to lead that jazz band of experiences without ever playing a note.
At times I miss preparing my classroom or leading a school through a sticky situation but now my role is to set the conditions to ensure that there are 100's more every year ready to do the same. From the graduates I met during my first summer I can only be sure of one thing:
The future is in good hands.