So, why is this notification so momentous for me? Well, Principal Kafele is known in education circles to challenge the status quo. He fights for ALL children's access to education, and he cares deeply for the professionals with which he works. In essence, he is kind of a big thing, and when he speaks or tweets or video posts, I listen. And that is why I stopped and really noticed what he posted on Saturday. His word for the day was balance, and his definition spoke to me. Kafele challenged the reader to "...give the fulfillment of your dream your all, but also ensure that there is balance in your life."
When educating children is our dream, so much of what we do then engulfs our waking and sleeping hours. We worry over teachers and students, we work to meet a menagerie of deadlines, and we reflect over practices and policies constantly. We facilitate great work in our buildings, and we dedicate our hearts to the service of our students and staffs. Untold numbers of hours are spent on this good work, and that is what we love to do. So, when Kafele posted an article about a principal who had passed away at her desk shortly after he posted his definition of balance, I took notice. In the article about Trish Antulov, the author quotes an alarming statistic. “On average, 53 per cent of principals worked more than 56 hours per week during term, with 27 per cent working upwards of 61 to 65 hours per week" (Miner, 2018). Miner (2018) proposed later in the article that principals often work so many hours that they cannot maintain a healthy lifestyle. My understanding about the need for balance for all educators - not just principals - weighed on me in that moment, and I believe any leader and educator who leads from the heart will feel the same way.
So in response I began to ask myself a variety of questions. How do I lead from the heart professionally while balancing my personal needs as well? Furthermore, how can principals help one another so that the profession is not so lonely and the work not so heavy? I am not sure that I have an answer yet, but I know that we cannot do this work alone. It is going to take a team to figure out how to balance the numbers so that we are ALL resilient enough to do the work ahead. Finding the right leadership team is certainly going to be crucial, and leveraging shared leadership practices is also going to be a must. But, I think even more important will be my ability to find that critical friend, that one person I can trust, so that I may share my worries AND my joys in a candid way. Ultimately, as a principal I must find ways to balance the numbers - the tasks, the hours, the joys, and the hardships - so that I can truly be the servant leader I want to be. #balancematters #resiliencematters
Miner, K. (2018 February 21). Principal dies at her desk. The West Austalian. Retrieved from https://thewest.com.au/news/kalgoorlie-miner/principal-dies-at-her-desk-ng-b88751578z