Nevertheless, one conversation I had made me feel like I had not done enough. That conversation happened one afternoon when I met with the person who was coming to replace me.
My experience that day made me think that this happens a lot. It is your time to go, time to take on a new challenge. You hand in your resignation and spend the last few months getting things set up for ‘the next person’ to transition smoothly into your role. You think to yourself, the next person will have it better than I had it. All those hours I have spent building this up, this should be easy for them.
Then the reality hits. Your replacement is coming to visit and you will spend some time with them showing them the ropes and all the great things that you have in place for them. When you begin to go through things, questions surface, do you have this or do you have that? “Oh we have that in my school,” the next person mentions. It only takes a few questions and one or two comments to reduce you to the point that, this next person has absolutely no idea of where you came from, the journey your school has been on and you are beginning to take a dislike to them. You feel awful, almost like you have failed. You were not able to accomplish everything you wanted, or that which is needed, and there the next person right there to tell you about it.
It has only been by taking a step back that I was able to let this upsetting moment go. The next person does not really want to know what you have been through and, perhaps, nor should they. The future is now the focus and you’re not going to be a part of it, so it is time to let it go. You, yourself, know what progress has been made, as do the people you have worked with throughout the journey. Forgive the next person, they are looking towards what it can be from here on in. You may have a tinge of sadness that you cannot be a part of it anymore.
If you have led properly, however, the culture will be there and will ensure that you have made a lasting difference, despite the fact that there is always room for improvement. The next person, if they are any good, will point out what work is still to be done and you will most likely agree with them. They did not mean to cause offense; our work in schools is never complete and we remind ourselves that, despite our best efforts, we cannot do it all.