N is for Navy-Blue Blazers
Other colors may be represented, but more often than not, attend any school conference and there you will have a bunch of school leaders rocking navy-blue blazers. Whether dressing up jeans, complimenting khakis, or accompanied by a skirt or slacks, there it is: the navy-blue blazer.
Isn’t it interesting, the culturally-normed costumes we wear?
I marvel at how we leaders stand around at conferences dressed up in our school leader costumes. Donning our disguises, we banter about how great!!! things are at our schools, about career ascendency, leadership moves within the industry, and tall tales about teachers doing crazy things. (I trust teachers tell similar stories about us!)
Instead of authentic sharing about the difficulties of the work, the stress, the exhaustion, the isolation, we posture and woo and hold court. It is a show, and it could be so much more. So, here’s to setting aside our navy-blue blazers, our filtered facades, our posturing, our pandering. Here’s to being more transparent and real with one another.
We need to cultivate safe, confidential spaces for school leaders to be the less-than-perfectly polished public selves their school communities demand of them. If school leaders cannot support other school leaders, then who will? Who else is equipped with the requisite experience to offer empathy for school leaders’ unique struggles?
What if we embraced as leaders the inspiring elementary school recess maxim that no one plays alone, and adjust it a bit to say that no one leads alone? What if we embrace conferences as a recess for ourselves, a place to play and trade best practices, for sure. But more importantly, a place to share a burden or two with a buddy.
The weight really is too heavy to carry alone.
So, let’s rock recess together.
Let’s support rather than gloat.
Let’s trade our filters for more transparency.
Let’s help each other instead of trying to impress each other.
Let’s leave our navy-blue blazers at home.