When I was going to graduate school for my Master’s Degree in Education Leadership, I decided to conduct my own informal research.
Over a number of weeks, I talked to current and retired principals about what they considered to be the lessons they had learned from their years in school leadership.
I remember one man in particular who was a retired teacher and administrator who had moved into higher education. We stood in the hallway one night after one my classes, and I asked him the question:
“What do you consider the greatest lesson you learned from your years as a principal?”
He looked down for a moment, and then looked back up at me and said. “I think I had to learn that I wasn’t always right. In fact, looking back now, I think I’d be lucky if I made the right decision 25% of the time.”
I was shocked. How could someone who seemed so articulate, competent, and confident say such a thing?
He smiled and explained. “Before you become the principal, you think you have all the answers. But once you take the position, you begin to realize how many things you don’t know…and sometimes you will call it wrong.”
“The sooner you accept that fact,” he went on, “The easier it will be to not be too hard on yourself when you make mistakes.”
I still remember walking away from that conversation in a daze. Continue reading