After nine years as a Head of School at a small, independent, International Baccalaureate school, I've become accustomed to being in charge, understanding the big picture, and being able to respond knowledgeably to most of the many questions I am asked. Even when I didn't know the answers, I needed to project a sense of confidence in myself and the situation in order to support the students, parents, teachers and staff whom I served. Of course I was open to learning new things- I worked collaboratively with my colleagues and looked to them for wisdom and ideas. I also engaged in professional development in order to grow as an educator through reading, research, workshops, and seminars. However, my role was always that of leader first, and then learner. Looking back, I realize that I rarely, if ever, put myself fully in the novice-learner role where I had to completely rely on others for information.
I have now moved on from my position as Head of School, in part to spend more time with my children, and in part to engage with new challenges. I am starting an educational consulting business in order to support other educational leaders. During the start-up phase of my consulting business, I’m also working part-time at my karate studio, whose educational philosophy I wholeheartedly support. In both of those endeavors, I am in a position of new learner in a way that I haven't experienced in a while. It is humbling and exhilarating- and my feelings have surprised me! In letting go the sense of myself as "leader" and taking on the perspective of "learner" I feel both more open and more vulnerable. This is good for me! I’m learning lessons and taking perspectives that I hope I will maintain as I move back into a role of more experienced professional.
Here are some thoughts about fully taking on the "novice-learner" role: