Last month I attended the retirement party for one of my favourite administrators. The evening's events have been tumbling around in my head and have caused much reflection. In my 16 years of teaching, I have had 16 different administrators and very few have inspired me. But should they have inspired? Is that their role as the leader of a school? I think so.
What I've come to look for in an administrator:
1. transparency. This translates into several things. You know where you stand with these administrators because they don't play favourites and is very clear as to what is going on with everything from budget allocation to district initiatives. There just are no games.
2. leadership. An administrator should be a leader and thus inspire teachers to up their game. In our district there is this trendy phrase that administrators are instructional leaders. I agree that they should be, but sadly they rarely are. I find that often, administrators are looking forward to where they want their careers to go and do not concentrate fully on their current assignment.
3. understanding. This is a tricky one. I know that administrators are management but I also know that they were once teachers. It's great when an administrator remembers what it's like to be in the classroom. What's better is when administrators use that knowledge to guide practice; they always listen to their teachers.
4. hard working. I know most administrators are hard working. What I mean here though is that they spend a lot of time in their school. Most often, fabulous administrators are in the building early and stay late because they spend a lot of time during school hours not cloistered in their office but out taking the pulse of the school.
5. detail oriented. My colleague Pauline always says that it is all about the details and I truly think she is correct. Taking care of the little details is just simply a sign of respect.
And that retiring administrator of mine? He sent every single person who attended his retirement party a handwritten, personalized thank you card. Talk about a class act. Halfway through my career and I doubt I'll ever work for another administrator quite like him. Here's hoping though.