In response to the posts relating to, “Teacher Stress,” a reader writes:
“What I am realizing in my district is that when you try to create effective change at an entry level administrator level, such as assistant principal, the leaders above you are sometimes more threatened than the teachers. They are afraid of the success that might come from this change, so they will squash it so that they don’t look bad. I am seeing way too much stagnant leadership being allowed to flounder. As long as they (principals) don’t make waves, the status quo will remain. What a pitiful reality.”
Again, I wish that I could say that what you describe does not occur, but we all know better. And having some knowledge about your capabilities and your district, your assessment is somewhat valid. But I do have some advice for you and others like you who are trying to effect change in subordinate positions.
First, the most direct path for creating student success and building positive leadership experience is to attack identified problems at full speed, adjust your tactics based on your short term results, and outwork everybody. You, your students and your team will soon begin to move ahead of the pack. Just know that everyone will not be happy with your success. It is the “A’ama Crab” theory. Your success will make them insecure and jealous and they will attempt to pull you back to the crowd. However, don’t hold it against the crab; it is his or her nature and a waste of your time. Your job is to remain focused on the goal.
Second, Jim Collins (Good to Great) points out that it is possible for sub-units to be disciplined and focused even when the whole is not. By doing so, you make things better for those you serve and often serve as a lever, or positive example, for the whole organization. This means that you can’t give up just because your operations are small, because your impact can often be great. And as I mentioned above, expect and ignore the crabs.
Finally, you may find yourself completely at odds with your boss and/or the organization. If you repeatedly find that you cannot reconcile your energy, passion and vision with that of who you work for, the problem is your’s, not your boss’. When this is the case, continue to do your job, but start looking for a boss or organization more in line with what you believe in. The bottom line is the golden rule; who has the gold makes the rules. But you do get to choose whose gold you take.
Think. Work. Achieve.