As a first year administrator, I treasure each of the teachers I work with and learn from each day and especially the students. They are each unique in their own way. I am fortunate to be at a school where there truly is a growth mindset, where students and teachers are open to always learning more and thinking differently. However, even in a garden that is flourishing and growing, weeds creep in. I had been ignoring these weeds for the past weeks in my own garden, as I just didn’t want to deal with them until today.
Today was weeding today. As I picked each weed from the garden I realized that these weeds had probably been sucking the nutrients, the water, the life out of the plants I really wanted to flourish. The lettuce could have had a better start, the carrots may have been bigger, the lime tree possibly would have had more limes…Where had I been? I had been making sure the plants got enough water, but I hadn’t taken away the things in the garden, the weeds, that were actually distracting from the real work, our students. Which brought me to an insight into my role as an administrator. How can I take things that are draining teacher’s energy so that they can truly grow and produce? By produce, I am talking about increase student learning. For we know when teachers have time to learn and truly have deep conversations about teaching and learning, students grow. We must make time for this. As teachers, we have so much to do in order to produce just one blossom or one child, let alone a classroom full. At times, especially in the fall and back to school season it seems the weeds are everywhere. The to-do list just never ends. On top of the regular classroom planning, beginning of the year assessments, back to school nights, parent teacher conferences, holiday parties, we have little time to stop and reflect.
As I picked these weeds today, I made a commitment that this year and every year I find myself in an administrative role, I will be a “Servant Leader” (Greenleaf, 1970), especially during this busy time of year. A servant leader focuses primarily on the growth and well being of the people and the communities they serve. The servant leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps them to develop and perform as highly as possible (Greenleaf, 1970). The weeds must be out of the way! As an administrator, I must weed on a regular basis so that our teachers, the biggest direct impact in a child’s learning at school, can use their energy to grow our students. I will take things off their to-do list as much as I am able, so they can do the hard work of growing our students. Teachers with the right soil, light, water, fertilizer, along with weeds out of their way, are able to grow students and also find time to grow themselves. Growing a garden or “school” is not easy, but truly serving others can be simple when we all keep the ultimate goal in mind. That same vision is to create as many blossoms as possible, as much student growth as possible! Looking forward to the Spring time already!