For a bit now I have been thinking about the similarities between being a teacher and being an Administrator. I know for some there is such a disconnect but to be fair and honest, there really isn’t. In my most recent reflections, I have been thinking about Power and more importantly how I wield it and how I share it.
We all have some kind of power in our lives, depending on the circle in which we situate ourselves. In some circles, we have more and in others, we have less. For myself, I recognize that in the majority, if not all, of my circles I will always hold the power. So this continually makes me think about how it is wielded, how it is perceived, and more importantly, how it is used.
When I was a classroom teacher, I had power and even though I often shared my power I still held it in the classroom. This is innate in the ways in which the system is built. I was the one to give grades, I was the adult in the room and just the sheer idea of educator and student gives any teacher power. But I always tried to reflect on the ways in which I shared my authority and also ways in which to make students feel part of the process and decision-making. For example, going gradeless and feedback-based assessment allowed me to have students part of the learning processes. It gave them control in sharing opinions and ideas in order to help them through one of the most powerful processes a teacher has, report cards. I also tried to ensure students had a choice in how they would like to be assessed or even in the projects they wanted to do. Students created maps of the classroom and often designed how it was to look. There was free seating choice and one of the best things I did was allow free dialogue about how I was teaching and also how events unfolded in the classroom; through our community circles. But now I am an administrator.
So now I continue to reflect: How am I sharing authority and power? Who has the power in my school? How is it being wielded?
I know as an administrator I have even more positional authority then I had as a teacher. I also know that when I was a teacher, I have come across many admins that misused this power and would often lord it over teachers; this was never a great environment to work in. So the question is always around me: What is Power? Who has it? Who is wielding it? How is it being used?
Now ultimately, though I am the one reflecting it isn’t really me who can answer if the use of my power is shared but I can talk about what I am doing to help understand where it stands. The first is allowing voices in the schools to be heard. This is both teachers, students and parents. There are many different ways but one is that we have an open door policy at the school. Teachers, Students and Parents can come by or phone in at any time to talk to us. As an Admin team we have also sent out surveys to ask about the school and also to ask for feedback. We then action or at the very least communicate the feedback to various groups so that it isn’t just asking and never actioning. We also have various committees to also help with advice and direction of the learning at the school.
Another move that I have tried to do is ensure that I am not the only one making a decision. This has been one of the hardest things to remember. Sometimes as a teacher we are so use to just making split second decisons for the classroom but now I need to remember to slow down, reflect, evaluate and gather all the information to make the best decison possible. Part of that is seeking the advice of those around me. This includes everyone in the building. Ensuring that all are involved allows me to help share power and authority.
I am still fairly new at being an admin so would love to hear anything else others have to offer. I know for myself I am always questioning the power that I have and how it is percieved. I try to stay humble with it and remember that my first role as an admin is to serve and to serve you must stay humble and reflective.