In honor of E. Don Brown’s birthday yesterday, today’s advice is something he pointed out to me soon after we first met. He stated,
“You do understand that the campus principal is the only pure advocate for students in the system.”
He went on to explain that everyone else in the system, at some point, will have a vested interest greater than that of a student. And that is OK.
I am a hard case when it comes to student advocacy, and from personal experience, I know that this is statement is true. I now see this statement as a critical turning point in my career. I have always been a principal advocate, and still consider myself a principal first (even though I haven’t been a principal in a quite a while). But it is still the “Principal” frame of reference that guides my work.
First, I constantly work with principals to embrace the role of student advocate (for if they do not, no one else has the capacity).
Second, I work to build systems that support all other levels of staff (from board member to paraprofessional) when they are working for students and to mitigate the effects of their self-interest when it is contrary to the needs of students.
Finally, I no longer take it (as) personally when I face the anger of self-interest denied. We are all human and we all face moments of being blinded from the overriding mission by our own needs. And when that is pointed out to us, it hurts (been there, felt that, often). I also know that “who” points it out, makes a difference (attack the new guy, he doesn’t know us). On the other hand, if no one ever points out this blind spot, then we never become aware to the point where we can regulate ourselves (imperfectly), coach our peers, and build systems that support our students at those rare time when we can not.
Think. Work. Achieve.
LYS readers, just a reminder and an invitation: Send me your favorite piece of advice and why, along with your mailing address. If I post it, I’ll send you a world famous Lead Your School can koozie.