A little over a year ago I took over as the Director of the small, private school I taught at for six years and attended as a small child. Need it be said that I was thrilled? My staff taught by my side for several years and brainstormed with me for nearly a year. I had a vision and I was eager to dive in head first towards transforming the small school into a new place! I was ready to be an Administrator.
Basic things required attention and change. Technology needs to be incorporated throughout the school. My teachers need to have their Montessori credentials. Our food should be fresh and healthier. Auto-draft tuition payments would make my life and parents life easier. A typical Montessori work cycle is three hours, which leads to changes in the daily schedule. The daily costs and cost of living is constantly rising, therefore tuition prices need to change to help the financial stability of the school. While these ideas are easy to implement, I missed a major component to taking over a school.
Operating a private school is about more than having sound policies and creating a “more Montessori environment,” a large fact that I completely missed in the beginning. It did not occur to me in the first few months that I was more than just a boss. I believed in and trusted the staff I taught beside and felt that being hands-off was the best way to handle my teachers. For months I wrote and revised handbooks, policies, and procedures for both parents and staff. Confident that things would run smoothly under the new policies meticulously outlined in the new books, I led my first staff meeting the weekend before my new position officially started. I prepared my staff for the changes that awaited them and made sure that expectations were clear. All should be perfect, right?
Things were perfect for the first few months! Our summer program was a major success. We successfully entertained and captivated children ranging from 36 months to 8 years in a one room school. Parents and students arrived happy and left happy. My staff were engaged with the kids and programming. My hopes for the school year rose with each new day and Facebook like. Week after week we received positive feedback.
The school year got off to a fantastic start! The high of the summer carried over into the school year as we transitioned into the Montessori curriculum. Quickly I lost my steam and drive as I longed for my days of teaching. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my new position, but I missed being in the classroom teaching and tried to navigate building relationships with the students again. At first, I spent as much time as I could out in the classroom observing students and teachers. Joy and pride filled me as our students transitioned and became accustomed to the new routines and rhythm of our academic year. This administrator had no complaints.
The weeks continued to go by. The relationship between my staff and I grew strained. I fixated on the little things and failed to see the big picture. My job was more than just being a boss. I lacked the crucial component of coaching my teachers. The harder I pushed my teachers, the harder they pushed back. Teachers started coming in late, refusing to update their parent portals, and ignoring me when I asked them to do things.
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