Be Part of the Solution
I expect being part of the solution is why many of us became administrators or aspire to become one. I know that I came to that decision about 10 years into my teaching career. I loved teaching and never planned on becoming an administrator. However, I gradually realized I wanted to be a problem solver on a larger scale. Perhaps coming from a large extended family instilled that “go-get-‘em” resolve. If I was to persevere in a household with three strong-willed siblings, I needed to find my own identity, my own path and my own mission.
Looking back, my first introduction to acquiring workplace leadership skills was as a choral teacher with 130 middle school age children to instruct. There were concerts to plan, logistical challenges to overcome, students to coordinate and classroom teachers to convince to release their students for multiple rehearsals.
Certainly, building on that early foundation of classroom experience helps shape the role of an administrator. In addition, some of the most valuable tools we carry with us throughout our careers have come from mentorships. We can all think of one or more people whose support and guidance has been indispensable. As a rising administrator, almost all of my mentors were men. I never felt as if my gender imposed a boundary to my learning and the trust that was built between us.
As we prepare our students for the future, it is imperative that they realize that both men and women can be leaders. We teach this in school, but does it translate to the workplace?
Statistics (from NJDOE 2015-2016 Certificated Staff) reveal that although 77% of teachers in New Jersey are women, only (from NJDOE 2016-2017 Certificated Staff) 28% are superintendents. Moreover, on a national scale, according to the report, Benchmarking Women’s Leadership in the United States, women hold 75% of all teaching positions across the U.S. but hold only 30% of leadership positions.
More than ever, I consider these qualities essential for anyone – woman or man – contemplating a leadership role in education:
- Don’t rush through being a teacher – it is the heart of what we do
- Focus on the students
- Be passionate about education
- Acquire keen observation and listening skills
- Enroll in a solid Master’s program in administration
- Take work seriously and work hard
- Stay on top of change
- Participate in all aspects of your school or district
- Be part of an effective mentor program, and
- Be part of the solution
For many years, NJASA has provided multiple opportunities for members through mentoring and networking. The Women’s Leadership Committee, representing every county in the state, is a particularly valuable resource, placing emphasis on encouraging and supporting women leaders. Our seminars are filled with relevant topics, prompting stimulating discussion, networking, and opportunities for further skill development. I strongly encourage participation in these worthwhile sessions.
This October join us at Fall Workshop for the NJASA Women's Leadership Initiative at 2:30 pm in Room 404 of the Atlantic City Convention Center on Wednesday, October 25th.
Also, mark your calendar for the AASA/NJASA/FEA Women's Leadership Program, March 15-16, 2018, Forsgate Country Club - Monroe Township, Middlesex County, NJ. Travel regulations waiver approved.
I hope to see you on October 25th.
“Benchmarking Women’s Leadership in the United States,” University of Denver, Colorado Women’s College
NJDOE 2016-2017 Certificated Staff