I Would Never Want Your Job

principal

Over the past two weeks I have been a part of several conversations with teachers, students, parents, principals, and aspiring administrators about the challenges that come with being a building principal.  The conversation caused me to reflect on the work we do on a daily basis as building leaders and to determine what is it exactly that causes others to say, “I would never want your job.”

The truth is I am worried about the long term impact of potential principal candidates because of the perception that is often associated with the work that we do. These perceptions lead others to believe that being a principal is not worth it and that makes me sad.  We need to combat this perception and that can only happen if building leaders begin to ask the question, “why do you say that?” and then take time to talk about why they feel the way they do.  It worries me when building leaders fall into the trap of agreeing with these types of comments because somehow it makes us appear that we can manage so much more than others. No, we are not superhuman. Yes, we are confronted with many challenges on a daily basis, but quite frankly, so are teachers and support staff who work in schools. We need our best classroom teachers pursuing administrative roles in schools so they can utilize their talents to make an even greater impact on our school communities.

I aim to change some of these perceptions that cause some to believe that school administration is not worth it because of the challenges that are attributed to the role of a school leader or for that matter, the role of any leader of an organization.  Here are a few of my thoughts on why you should want my job.

When you become a school principal you will learn that….

  1. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. The key to any successful leader is recognizing that everyone in your organization has strengths, skills and talents, that if cultivated, can help move your school forward in a more efficient, effective and positive manner. Building a strong cohesive office team is one of the best parts about working in administration.
  2. You don’t have to have all of the answers. You now have the collective knowledge and wisdom of dozens of others staff members to help you navigate potentially treacherous issues. Leaning on others and asking for help can be invigorating for you and staff. This will show your staff that you trust them and believe in their skills and abilities.
  3. You don’t have to miss the kids. Leaving the classroom doesn’t have to mean that you can no longer make the same type of impact with students that you made when you were a teacher. Creating your own opportunities for fostering positive and meaningful relationships with kids by seeking them out and spending time with them in intentional ways can still occur and it is still unbelievably rewarding.
  4. Your students still want to have a voice. What a tremendous opportunity we have to take student voice and their talents to an even greater scale.  Providing opportunities for your student body to raise their voice and participation will help cultivate a culture where students not only have a seat at the table, but truly have a voice table at the table.
  5. To some, you will now become a “they.” In my opinion, this is one of the biggest changes new administrators struggle with when they move into their new role and in all fairness, you need to know this.  And it is even more challenging when the level change happens within the same building where one taught.  No matter the reason why this happens, focus more on being a strong partner to all regardless of the title people carry and don’t ask others to do what you are not willing to do yourself.  By investing in others you will learn it’s not about a title, but about making a significant difference in each other.
  6. That if you want to perform your new responsibilities at a high level you will need to invest the time. The fact is you are expected to serve more people and with that expectation comes greater responsibility.  But that doesn’t have to translate to something negative. Resetting your mindset so that you see your new role as principal not as a title or job, but as a way of life, will pay great dividends when it comes to staying positive and experiencing the joy of serving others.
  7. How you respond when you don’t know what to do is where you grow the most as a leader. Accept that fact that you will be faced with this dilemma often.  By looking at every challenge as an opportunity to grow, you will begin to see difficult situations in a different light. No longer will you begrudge or avoid conflict, rather you will learn to embrace it.  By doing so, you will become a stronger and more compassionate leader.
  8. The role of the principal will look like what you want it to look like. If the perception that some have about building principals is that we spend all of our time sitting at our desks or in meetings, doing paperwork and answering emails, addressing naughty kids or dealing with unreasonable parents, then that is on us for not effectively communicating to others the work we do in a more practical and accurate manner.

We cannot allow ourselves to get stuck in a closed mindset that defines the role of the principal as, “It is what it is and it’s always been this way.”  If our intentions are to inspire others to follow our lead and pursue administrative positions, then we must do exactly that; create more opportunities for ourselves and for others to lead and inspire so we tell our story in a way that truly reflects how wonderful this profession really is.  As leaders, we must accept the responsibility that the role of the principal will become whatever we want it to become and what others believe the job demands and how they see it is also on us.

School administrators play a significant role when it comes to educating our children and impacting our school communities. The role of a school leader doesn’t have to look like it has always looked like or be what others want it to be or what they believe it should be.

Why should you want my job?

Our charge as school leaders is to get our best people to ask a different question….

“Why wouldn’t I want your job?”

 

I would love to hear your thoughts about leaving the classroom for an administrative position.

 

 

 

“Leaders become great, not because of their power, but because of their ability to empower others.” John Maxwell

 

17 Comments

  • Janalyn Taylor says:

    Well said! I have heard the same comment many times. You hit on important points. I love being an elementary proncipal, and I will definitely use your suggestions to encourage others.

    • Jimmy Casas says:

      Thank you Janalyn. I appreciate you taking the time to comment on my post. Like you, it is something I hear often, but have come to realize it will take us countering this perception by sharing with others all of the great things about being a school principal. Thanks again. – jimmy

  • I was just having this discussion with a colleague of mine, you are absolutely right. Thanks for sharing such relevant information.

  • Hey Jimmy,
    I’m at a point in my teaching career (25 years classroom and 5 in ICT), when I need to decide if going for a Principalship is for me. Your article has inspired me to change my thought process and hence my vocabulary to ask myself why I wouldn’t!

    Thanks for your article. It really helped
    Gerard

    • Jimmy Casas says:

      Gerard,
      I think that line of thinking is quite common, especially if you love teaching. I often tell people that it really is an incredible profession. Too often we focus on the 10% of the job that can be challenging, but forget about the 90% that is awesome. Thanks for giving it a read and glad it helped. – jimmy

  • Spot on Jimmy! The principalship can be intimidating for those who have not experienced
    how amazing it is to be a principal. I love your enthusiasm and point about great leaders taking that first step into the principalship and how this needs to be encouraged. It is the greatest job in the world, it is what you make it, and we need great people taking the role. Thanks for bringing this forward Jimmy. Spot on, spot on!

    • Jimmy Casas says:

      Thank you Damien. I feel blessed to have spent the last 22 years serving in this role. Thank you for being a champion for the role of the principalship. I appreciate your enthusiasm and passion. Keep up the great work! – jimmy

  • George says:

    You, Todd Whitaker, George Couros & Eric Sheninger never cease to inspire me and confirm why I do what I do! Thank you. Very well written about why we are administrators.

  • Kris says:

    What a great post! Recently, I was telling a couple teachers that I wanted to write a picture book to paint the picture of what a great principal in 2015 does. Yes – we have daily struggles as a leader in an organization but there has never been a more exciting time to be an educational leader – we are committed, connected & collaborating so that we help our students & staffs become their best! Thanks for a great post & for always pushing my thinking!

  • Aaron Hogan says:

    Jimmy,

    Thanks for this post. I needed several of these reminders (you define your role, responding when your don’t know, and the importance of investing time into the position) right now.

    I miss my classroom, but I do enjoy many of my responsibilities as an assistant principal. Your reminders are helping me re-center a few things that can get off kilter enough at times and allow the urgent to take too much priority over the important.

    aaron

  • Sonia says:

    Thank you, this affirms my feelings about why I am ready to leave the classroom. It’s not that I’m dissatisfied with teaching; I absolutely LOVE teaching! It’s about recognizing and noting changes that will help the school’s culture, community, student achievement and the need for professional growth in areas that will change how a teacher thinks about the students in a particular school from a teacher’s perspective. I’m in pursuit to share the love for learning within parents, teachers, and students.
    Thank you,
    Sonia
    An aspiring leader seeing possible changes, from the inside core of the apple.

  • Jon says:

    Well said My Friend….Who Wouldn’t want My Job! It does take hard work and time to be a successful school leader, but it’s worth all the money in the world…We have the BEST job in the world! Be Excellent 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing such a significant article. As administrators, we were once teachers, and most likely, someone saw potential in us. In our careers, these are the times we must pay it forward, and look to find and mentor those individuals who will replace us someday. Our greatest challenge and task is to motivate them to take on this enormously critical and fulfilling leadership role.

  • Shane Gordon says:

    A way of life it is. A great one at that!

  • Louis Manuppelli says:

    Jimmy,

    I came about your post on Linked In as I was messaging a potential administrator to send me her resume. She is a very talented teacher, but concerned about leaving her district to take on the responsibility of being a Principal. Your blog post really details what’s great about the position and the tremendous impact you can make just working hard and bringing people together for a common goal. For me you have always been one of the leaders to look up to and aspire to be. Thank you for getting the word out that this is on of the best jobs anyone could ask for !

    Take care and hope to hear from you.

    Lou Manuppelli
    Proud Principal
    New Milford High School
    New Milford New Jersey
    Go Knights !

  • Dr. Len Tomasello says:

    Greetings and Happy New Year!
    About 11 years ago, I decided to retire from “active duty” as a school leader after serving young children for nearly 40 years. After “retiring” for just one year, I started serving as an interim school leader in several districts, and have had the pleasure of working in 5 districts, for periods of time ranging from 3 months to 6 years. I still love the work of a school leader and, at 73 years old, I feel that I still have a lot to offer…and a lot to learn! Working with young people and their teachers offers me countless opportunities to “influence” the future.
    I also serve as an adjunct professor at a local university where I mostly serve as a supervisor for aspiring school leaders. One of my challenges is “influencing” teachers in the Administrative Internship Program that being a school leader IS a great job despite what many of them believe. I plan to share this article with my new interns next Saturday. I will also make them aware of your inspiring messages that I receive regularly. Thank you for the work you do…it’s appreciated.