Two years ago I came back from my English adventure. I only stayed for a year at the school in London and it seems that I finally learned my lesson. I am not a Principal! I have a head, but I am not a head. I can inspire people, but I cannot and will not, well basically refuse to make grown ups do things.
Perhaps I have no leading qualities or skills or perhaps I think it is offensive to have to tell someone what to do who should be old enough and educated enough to know. But teachers are a special breed…
So I took all my humor and my courage and took the decision to leave and by that to leave something for those carrying on that is hopefully fruitful and good.
After such an intro obviously the question arises what happened?
Well, let me start with Uma, at the time a 2nd grader:
In October 2016 I was asked the most difficult question in my career. The question that changed my life and my perspective, by an 8-year-old.
„Mrs Jansen, what does a principal actually do?“
The school I had started working with in London had been, except for a very short interlude, self-governed and had experienced the same difficulties any organisation has, if the structure is not clear: a void develops and was filled. Sometimes that works out well, for a period of time, sometimes.
So it seemed logical to revert to an option that for ages seemed to be successful: hiring a person who is responsible and makes decisions. Basically, someone who sorts „it“.
I normally always have a quick and witty answer but I felt panic creeping up, how was I supposed to explain to an 8-year-old what my job was that justified me being there.
„Well,“ I started hoping her attention span would be short and she would happily skip off. Instead, her eyes were locked intensely on me, „I am here to help teachers so that they have more time for you.“
Her eyes were like an x-ray machine and I hoped she would be satisfied with my answer. She nodded and quietly and thoughtfully walked away.
I stood there shell-shocked and urgently needed a coffee.