Leading, Gently

Today, on my way out of his office, I realized how much my vice-principal has taught me about how to lead:

  • Openness: he is always available.  If he’s out of his office, he returns phone calls or e-mails right away and works around my schedule to find a time to talk.  And once we are talking, I never feel a bit rushed or foolish for bringing up my concerns: he really listens and wants to help.
  • Trust: when I recently asked his advice about a situation with a student, he first responded, “What’s your feeling about this?” I told him, and he said, “That’s what I was thinking, too.” There are no words to describe the gift of a principal who trusts his teachers.  I know that he will defend me and my actions.
  • Joy: he has a wonderful sense of humor. I frequently leave his office laughing, with a healthy distance between myself and my problems.  His quick wit helps me realize how utterly unoriginal my situation is: others have endured this before me, and I too will endure it, with God’s help and his support.
  • Love: he helps remind me of why I am a teacher.  At the close of our conversation today (which centered around three separate incidents of parent communication) we both ruefully acknowledged that this was the season for such flare-ups.  People are overcome by the pressure and stress of the holiday season, and this causes them to get angry or hurt by situations that are really not so bad.  And then he took one more step: “We need to pray for peace,” he said.  “Peace for the whole world,” I remembered, as we pray at each Liturgy.  “Yes, for the whole world,” he said, “and for ourselves, too.”