If you opt out of education leadership, please do not throw rocks from the sidelines

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The education revolution, so much has been said about what needs to change: we must have more flexible school structures, we must change learning spaces, learning should become more personalized and accomplished to name a few of the things being called for by so many.

As school leaders, at times, we can feel that we are not doing enough, we are not making changes quick enough, we’re overwhelmed by what is expected by so many challenges. Yet so many leaders are doing a great job, daring to go where so many others will not go.

The term ‘disruptive’ has been used quite frequently in describing the change required in education. I think ‘disrupt’ is an apt term but it has an impact in that disrupting education for the better actually creates conflict and tension with those either slower to move or unwilling to change. Getting these people on the bus, so to speak, is the hardest job of a school leader and yet so often the point of criticism aimed at those in leadership positions.

This is made worse, when teachers who opted out of leadership, for the fact it is too difficult for them, point the finger at what is wrong with leadership in their school. They forget that they opted out because leading change in education means challenging ourselves and our colleagues to be better. Encouraging and coaching a teacher to be better is a difficult task because teaching can be so personal. It becomes even harder if teacher motivation is low, or particular bad habits have become entrenched over time without ever being raised or addressed.

Yet, criticism of leaders continues to rain down from those who choose to not to lead owing to its difficulty and the prospect of having to have difficult conversation with colleagues about being a better teaching professional. In their own words, “it’s easier to be a teacher and the pay to be a leader is not worth it.”

If that’s your choice, then please support us and be constructive in supporting those leaders in our schools who are embracing the challenge of the education change agenda. Throwing rocks from the sidelines only leads to unnecessary pain for school leaders, and please do not tell us that we have to grow a thicker skin.

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