Being Misunderstood

I recently had a conversation with my colleagues about an article that I had stumbled upon in my twitter feed, it was about how the job of a school principal is largely misunderstood. To be more specific, there are several paradoxes that exist in the job of the person tasked with simultaneously moving the work and vision forward on a campus, while at the same time balancing the bureaucracy on the district level. For the most part, being #conditproud while at the same time being a member of #TeamHISD is a pretty seamless affair since our goals are largely the same: making sure we grow our student leaders, honoring their unique talents, and creating a love of learning. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone understands what I do. I wonder what the responses would be if I took this one question poll: What does the principal do? Perhaps that’s a topic for another time 🙂

The idea that we don’t all clearly understand each other is one that I have been kicking around since my conversation; I see a road fraught with peril when we believe we understand exactly what everyone does and who everyone is, and this idea extends well beyond my specific position at our school.

As teachers, how do we really get to know our students? We tend to instruct our students with some fairly large assumptions about them until we learn otherwise. This is one of the reasons that I fell in love with the idea of parent conference day at the beginning of the year. Spending the time to get to know about our kids before getting to know them as learners really set the stage to respond to each of their needs. Understanding our students in the context of their lives outside of school is powerful stuff.

As parents, do we understand all the different directions that teachers are pulled? While the idea of what a principal does is largely accepted as ‘lots of things’, I have found that sometimes the parent view of a what a teacher does is narrow and leaves lots out. Perhaps we need to make space for those types of conversations on our campus as well?

The great part about recognizing a misunderstanding is that there is always an opportunity to address it. Habit 5 tells us to seek first to understand then to be understood and the best time to practice that is always! My advice: ask a lot of questions, take a lot of notes, and be a good listener. There will be time to explain a problem, it’s best to understand context first.

As we head into Thanksgiving Break I hope you enjoy the cooler weather, you find time to rest and relax as we enjoy a nice week-long break, and you eat altogether too much as you are surrounded by friends and family…that is something I’m quite certain we all understand 🙂