Before I get started, did you catch yesterday’s session (12/23/23) of the AP & New Principals Academy (WEEK191) with my guest, Director of the Office of Violence Prevention & Trauma Recovery in Newark, NJ, Keesha Eure? We had a powerful conversation on the topic, A Conversation on Violence Prevention & Trauma Recovery in Schools. If you missed it, see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lT4HZvAkDWY&t=1334s
As I sat there listening to Director Eure, I was reminded of a recurring theme in my mind with so many of the guests I have had on the platform….there’s so much that I simply didn’t know as a school leader. As a principal over a period of fourteen years, I prided myself on being well-informed and an ongoing learner of all things education and leadership but to know it all is probably an impossibility. Be that as it may, when I sit right in this seat every Saturday morning and listen to my guests, I’m thinking to myself, “WOW…had I known this, I could have done this or I could have accomplished that.” In other words, in listening to my guests, not only am I learning something new, but I am also discovering what I either didn’t know or what I don’t know. My point then is that there is so much to learn and know in school leadership.
The world is constantly changing and evolving daily. The children that I led twelve years ago are not the children of today. The teachers that I led twelve years ago are not the teachers of today. Both the children and teachers of 2023 are operating in a world today that is vastly different from the world that I led in twelve years ago. My question to you is as you consider your current leadership philosophy, approach, strategies and style, are they current and consistent with the times and with the population that you lead? Is there any chance that your leadership philosophy, approach, strategies and style are outdated, misinformed, obsolete, irrelevant or out of touch with today’s climate? Whew! It matters. I am often asked would I ever consider going back to school leadership. I think about it daily and I dream about it nightly. The reality though is the question, “Do I possess the skillset to lead today?” Said differently, “Do I currently know what I need to know to lead effectively in today’s schools?” I would think that I do because I have remained current in my learning, but this essay isn’t about me…it’s about you. Do you know what you need to know in order to be highly effective as a leader today?
The title of this essay is, What You Don’t Know Just Might Be What’s Inhibiting Your Leadership Growth and Development. What I am implying in the title is simply that learning matters. If the last book relative to your work that you read was in graduate school, that’s a problem. And I use the word “book” loosely. Whatever your source of learning, you must engage in it. You must learn, learn and learn. Your students are dependent upon it. Your teachers are dependent upon it because at the end of the day, the challenges in your school are immense. I don’t expect you to know it all. That would be unrealistic of me. I am saying however that as a school leader, learning must be an ongoing priority and it must be intentional because at the end of the day, “What you don’t know just might be what’s inhibiting your leadership growth and development.”
For more discussion on the role of the assistant principal and the new principal, visit my AP & New Principals Academy YouTube channel, subscribe, and see them all here: