I come from a different generation. I work hard more hours each week than I care to count. While I have my “desk” hours at work, the hours I spend in district boundaries do not begin to touch the hours of work I do. As and administrator in an education system, most people do not understand exactly what it is that I do.
I answer questions.
I make decisions.
I talk much.
I listen more.
When I first heard the term from one of my idols in administration, lead-learner seemed to me to be a homage to the profession and to diminish the distance between classroom educators and administrators. Now that I work in administration, I cannot find any good way to explain to others just how much time I spend studying and learning more about my job, my programs, the politics of the work that I do.
I often read until late in the night though my defined bedtime is 10:00 p.m. for my alarm sounds at 5:00 a.m.
Education is about learning. Administrators who cease to learn have a very short tenure with the burgeoning research into “best practices” potentially changing from day-to-day the work we do. However, effective administrators need to know the difference between “best practices” and what will truly work in the circumstances of the particular school. Such discrimination takes constant study and learning.
When I was a student through my first Masters degree, because I had never taken a break from the education system, I never realized how much work learning is. After taking a near ten year break between earning a first and second Masters degree, I forgot the effort required to truly master new information and be a successful student.
Lead learner no longer seems to me a dismissive term. It solidly represents the work ethic it takes to be an effective leader.
Because I still have so much to learn in one of the programs I administer, I do not yet consider myself effective. I am now sufficient, but through another year of learning, I may approach the point of being effective.
Working in education takes a different kind of work than many people can understand. The work I do on one day may not show effects for months. And it may take days of work before there is a visible product to show for the hours of mental toil.
To many may consider it to be “less-than” work, but I know I sleep well each night. I gave up long ago trying to compare my 90-hour work week to the 40-hour work week of someone in a business setting. Thirty-plus of my hours of work my occur in the recliner in my living room, but with the ultimate outcomes being what they are, they are just as strenuous and effective as the hours spent behind a desk. I take pride in the work ethic I bring to the job each and every day and look forward to many more years of active learning, of being the lead learner in my job as an example for everyone who works with me.