This August, I will join the 2013-2015 cohort of the NYSAIS Emerging Leaders Institute. I'm very eager for the chance to work closely with, and learn from, fellow educators (the cohort includes classroom teachers, admissions officers, technologists, etc.). Of course, the ELI also offers an exciting opportunity to think more deeply about what sort of leadership role I might see myself in a few years down the line.
In anticipation of the program and our first meeting, I have been assigned two books on leadership: Seven Secrets of the Savvy School Leader, by Robert Evans, and Good to Great by Jim Collins. I started with Seven Secrets..., which turned out to be a sobering look at the role administrative leaders play in their school. While the overall tone is optimistic, and Evans provides fairly concrete advice to school leaders, he also paints a picture of school leadership as an always challenging, often rewarding, and sometimes lonely role to occupy. As I read, I of course thought a lot about what kind of school leader I might be, imagining scenarios in which I might put some of Evans's advice into practice, playing out challenges in my mind. Perhaps more interesting, though, was that as I read I grew to appreciate the work of the many school administrators I know well in a new light. Effecting change is a general expectation of school leaders - they are asked to enter established environments and cultures and start tweaking routines, challenging norms while supporting what works well - and yet they are easily criticized, pushed to work intense hours, and rarely recognized for their accomplishments. Robert Evans gave me lots of good food for thought, and I expect Jim Collins will do the same!