Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Part of the process or failure?

Since I have taken the path of working out my leadership angst in this blog, I will continue on this path because I have still not made peace with the role and responsibility I suddenly have as my building works to discuss and reflect on grading practices and philosophies.

I feel I might be living a big potential fail right now as my building looks to examine grading practices, so these readings are really resonating with me as I struggle.  I do say “feel” because as Kouzes and Posner point out, leadership and change are filled with “uncertainty, hardship, disruption, transformation, transition, recovery, new beginnings, an other significant challenges” (93).  I know that change is not easy, and I did not expect it to be, but that doesn’t change the frustration and doubt I am feeling right now.  I also know that this contentious time may just be a necessary part of the change process.  My crystal ball is dark though on whether we will work through this successfully or if we will fail to implement large-scale change.

Chapter 5 is so on point-as I read that chapter, I see one flaw in our change efforts at the high school.  I don’t think we have listened enough, talked enough, shared enough.  I am not sure our leadership team has made the connections necessary to get the buy in, and I definitely do not feel we have a shared vision right now.  As is so often the case in education, there is so much on our plates that teachers simply go into survival mode--we have to get to the end of the day, to the end of the week, the end of the quarter, the end of the year.  We are so bogged down in the nuts and bolts that we do not have any energy left to do more, especially when it feels like someone is asking “more” of you because they did not create a shared vision, listen, and get buy in.  So in being part of the leadership team, I feel we failed from day 1.  Now the question is how to regroup and restart the process…change of tactics, change of message, change of leadership...

I also feel personal failure in my role in all this.  I am not sure I am in the right role in all this; I have tended to do what is right, then share with people who are interested.  I have never tried to move the mountain.  I do feel I have failed to lead effectively. I have not been able to communicate the importance of reflecting on grading (not that people must change, but just look at our own practice). I have not been able to calm fears and dispel erroneous thinking.  I think the staff is pretty divided on this issue.  It is causing tension in relationships, and people have lashed out personally.  I am not sure I am up for the emotional toll leading takes, and  I don’t know if this philosophy is my passion project.  I believe in it; I think it is good for kids; I think it is the right change.  But, I am not sure I am ready to go to the line, take the heat, and invest in it.  That may seem contradictory, but I am no different than my colleagues--my plate is also full, and I know I have to make choices of where and when to expend.  There is a cost to everything.  I stopped short when I read this quote:  "Challenges cause you to come face to face with yourself.  They are rather harsh ways of remind you of what's important, what you value, and where you want to go" (94).  I think I need to come to terms with myself first, then see if I move on as an out-front person or move back to a practitioner/supporter on this issue.


  1. Jen, I always admire your honesty and this reflection does the same. I especially love the quote about facing yourself. Too many times we are too scared to confront the fears that are close to us and also right in front of us. I would say you have done a lot of reflecting on this issue and have revisited it enough to know that it is your time to step back for a bit and evaluate where you are in the process. I would not call this a failure, I would call this more of an adjustment period in order to get the best possible results and do what's right. Keep at it!

  2. Jen, thank you for this post. I agree with Kirsten. You did a really nice job of sharing your honest feelings with some tough challenges coming ahead. I think posting something like this is so important because, I guarantee, there are other people who share some of the same concerns. You can only truly work through these challenges through communication. Through communication, I feel you build trust, and from trust, the result will be "true change." It's definitely easier said than done though!