Miss Night's Marbles

Musings, mumbles, marvels, and sometimes mockery, live from kindergarten.

Why lead? (On joining the Dark Side…)

on 29 August, 2013


I started out to tell you that I am not a teacher this year, but that felt all kinds of wrong. A teacher is something you ARE, not something you do.

So, I’m still a teacher.

But I’m not in a classroom this year. I’ve moved up, joined the dark side (I heard there were cookies… I love cookies).

I’m an administrator. I have an office and a title: Director of Early Childhood Education. The closest parallel in a public school setting is a Vice-Principal or Assistant Principal. I oversee our Preschool, Junior Kindergarten, and Kindergarten programs. Camryn, my amazing boss, is still my boss  (and still amazing, by the way), but a lot closer to being my sidekick. Or maybe I am her sidekick? Anyway, she is The Principal, and I am the AP. Sort of. Some days I am sure that the ENTIRE point of the rocky path that led me to This School was so that I would get to meet and work with Camryn. She’s THAT awesome. But I digress.

I’ve been quiet about this change here, cautious about sharing it. I’m worried that it will somehow discredit me. It’s weird to think of “how I do things in my classroom” as “how I used to do things in my classroom, when I had one.”

God bless my teaching partner from last year, who has said to me, more than once: “You taught me SO MUCH. My classroom will ALWAYS be your classroom.” She is teaching kindergarten on her own, now, in the room that we shared. She is amazing, and when I hear my words coming out of her mouth, I smile and cry at the same time.

In the 3.5 months since I was offered, and accepted, this position (it is newly-created, but I still had to apply, and interview against other candidates), I cannot begin to count the number of people who have questioned my decision to NOT be in a classroom. I know that these questions come from a well-intentioned place – a place of “you are such an amazing teacher, how can you leave that?” but they always feel vaguely judgmental, like I’m selling out of the REAL work.


This isn’t about “quitting” the classroom. This is about choosing to step out so I can lead.

So, if your REAL question is “Why do you want to lead?” there are a million answers:

Because I am a textbook firstborn.

Because I’m bossy.

Because I have a voice and I want it to be heard.

Because I have worked HARD to develop the skills, knowledge, attitudes, of a leader.

Because throughout my life,  I have ended up in leadership positions without seeking them out.

Because when I notice a problem, my immediate response is to start figuring out a solution.

Because I am a great teacher.


Because I care about people, think they are interesting, want to hear their stories.

Because it has been ingrained in me that if I am not part of the solution, I am part of the problem.

Because I am an expert at what I do.

Because I can be relied upon to produce an opinion any time one is called for, and that opinion is usually informed, thoughtful, well-researched.

Because the other option – of staying within the four walls of my classroom, quietly doing my thing, is not who I am, has never been who I am.

Because when you are offered an opportunity that allows you to be MORE of who you are, YOU TAKE IT.

There. It’s out. Will you all still read me here, follow me on the Twitterz, like me on the Facebooks?

I promise to share the cookies.



7 Responses to “Why lead? (On joining the Dark Side…)”

  1. […] got my new job (on the dark side, in admin), the kind of job I have wanted for a long […]

  2. […] it has been just over a month since I started this admin gig, and moved from my classroom to my office.  I’ve learned some things, some of them serious, […]

  3. Colleen Mayberry says:

    Good luck in your new venture! You are an inspiration and will be wonderful in the role, no doubt.

  4. Amy Ellerman says:

    Well said! This is my third year as an Instructional Coach, and I still can’t bear to change my twitter profile. I’ll always identify as a teacher first!

  5. Matt Renwick says:

    Amy, you articulate many of the same trepidations and feelings I had when I also joined the “Dark Side”. I appreciate your reflection, as I see myself in it. When I had hesitations about pursuing my admin degree, my principal asked me what type of teacher would make the best principal. Unsure what to say, he responded, “The best teacher”. While this didn’t make sense to me at the time (why take a great teacher out of the classroom?), it makes perfect sense to me now. Good principals are good teachers. They still teach; the only thing that has changed is the size of the classroom and the students.

    I will say, we can quickly become “just administrators”– it’s a slippery slope. That is, if we choose to sit on the side lines and never venture back into the classroom, then we can become somewhat antiquated. How can we be a coach or mentor for a teacher when we aren’t in their position at times? The best decision I have made as a principal is scheduling daily visits into classrooms, as a reader, a teacher, an observer, a cheerleader, and (most important) a learner. Reading your posts, I have no doubt that you will be, and already are, a success.

  6. faige says:

    You have such passion and I see you seeking this opportunity as courageous. Wishing you all the best. You inspire so many with your big heart. A chance to lead is a chance for change

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