Return to the Headless School

HeadlessI hope that it doesn’t say too much about my ego that I really enjoy re-reading some of my own previous blog posts.  Sometimes it helps me to recognize the patterns in my writing, both good and bad, and other times it just gives me a confidence boost.

Recent events at my school have led me back to a piece that I wrote a couple of years ago in response to Scott McLeod’s annual call for posts about Educational Leadership.  At that time, after a couple of years with a new principal (who had himself followed an enormously popular and experienced leader), it had become clear to the staff that we needed to take control of the change we wanted to see:

Two years ago, a group of teacher leaders joined together to make a pact: we will make a grassroots effort to lead from below.

The effort was largely successful.  Not only did our test scores continue to improve, but we managed to assimilate an increasingly diverse group of students (and teachers, for that matter) into our school culture.  It has not been a smooth process, but we have made progress toward becoming a more vibrant learning community.

This has involved promoting teacher leadership and building networks within our walls.  We welcome new teachers with open arms and celebrate the achievements of the veterans.  We have (somewhat) successfully worked with a principal who is not very strong in the interpersonal area, but who is well-intentioned, by making his involvement in the process unnecessary.  I know how disrespectful and counter-intuitive this sounds, but is has allowed a talented faculty to make improvements.

Now, it has been announced that our leader is leaving to start a new school elsewhere in this ginormous disctrict.  While some have cheered his departure and eagerly anticipate positive change, and others dread the unknown and the real possibility of a less effective leader, I smile on.

That’s because I know that it doesn’t matter what the top of the pyramid looks like… it’s the bottom that provides its stability.