I have certainly been blessed in my career. I have had some amazing professional opportunities that have prepared me for the campus leadership position I hold now. Even though I changed positions on a regular basis, I gained some extensive knowledge in from a variety of aspects in education. I am tremendously grateful for the districts I have served and their immersion into the Visioning Document to guide my leadership principles. I am most blessed to serve an amazing campus with precious children, supportive families, a great community, and an incredible staff of committed educators who are willing to be risk-takers and do whatever it takes to do what is right for our students.
In year four of my principalship, I am fortunate to see much of the initial five-year vision I set upon my arrival coming to fruition. Our students are becoming strong readers, writers, thinkers, and problem-solvers. We have re-established relationships with our parents and are beginning to have some connections with our community at large. We have received recognition for strong practices of transformation. We have gone from a campus with declining results, to a campus on the verge of an explosion of greatness.
I should feel great, right? However, in the past few months, my major emotion has been that of anxiety.
Don’t get me wrong. I have great pride in my students and staff. It is because of my deep commitment to them that I have anxiety of how to proceed as we accomplish the last of these goals. My passion for being the very best for them has created my stress. I started my leadership journey with a clear vision. The path has been very clear and the results have come. My worry rises from as we see our initial destination in view I am plagued with the questions: “What next? Where do we go from here?”
That’s what happens when you create a learning organization. You create people with a growth mindset who are intent on getting better every day. My work as a part of the Principal’s Visioning Institute has resulted in my own deep self-reflection. I absolutely believe in the Visioning Document. It has framed our initial transformation. But I have reached the point where I am standing on the horizon looking at an unclear path. My past “self” would have said I’ve done what I’m good at, time to move on. But that is not what I want for my future “self”. I have more goals, higher vision, than just what has been accomplished so far. I’ve just not been at this stage of transformation and simply “rinsing and repeating” will not help us to continue to up our game.
Part of my anxiety that because I have such great people, I am fearful of not having a clear plan. These wonderful educators have worked so tirelessly to achieve our goals thus far, I want to continue to ensure their success. However, since I am headed into unchartered territory, it is hard to know what to expect. I just don’t want to lead them down the wrong path. I want to make sure we are prepared with the right tools and that my navigation equipment is state of the art.
These past two days at the Principal’s Visioning Institute have been much needed to face my leadership fears. I’ve been more quiet than usual, but soaking up every word and putting into my current context to prepare for the next stage of our journey. It has helped me to see that while I may not be familiar with the next stage of my journey, others around me are and they are ready to help. I have a great map with the Visioning Document and its related tools. I have a fleet of other leaders navigating the same course of redesigning education to meet the needs of 21st-Century Learners. Most importantly, I have a fantastic, fearless crew of educators at my side. Any perils of the unknown we face, we will face together.
Ultimately, these past two days, I have realized that it’s okay for leaders to be unsure, but you can’t dwell there. You have to find your tools, your supports, and make a plan, even if
it’s unfamiliar. You can still see the horizon. It’s just time to start planning for the next stop in my campus’ journey. It’s time to harness my grit, my growth mindset, and God’s grace