“. . . there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”
-DumbledoreAs I was talking, I felt myself tense up. My mouth got dry, my pulse echoed throughout my body and I felt a heat rise up in my chest.
I knew what I had to say was important, but I also knew that it was loaded. My reflection did not speak the best of our school, but it was the truth and the administration and other teachers in the room needed to hear what people had been telling me all week.
I’m being purposely ambiguous and I realized that it might be aggravating to not provide specifics. I’m not doing this out of shame but respect to my school. At another time in another place, I’d be more than happy to give details, but for now I want to focus on the larger challenge of what it means to speak truth to power.
People react to being the new kid on the block differently. Some people try to assert themselves and make a big splash. My strategy three years ago was to observe, keep my mouth shut and get the lay of the land. I did just that and I didn’t take any major chances at saying things to administration.
I often tell people that the only thing that intimidates me about my administration is their titles. It’s true. Nothing they’ve said or done has ever made me feel scared or threatened. Because I have a healthy does of inbred respect to my superiors, the title of principal itself causes me to pause before speaking.
My life has changed over the past three years and what this school has asked of me has also changed. This year, I’m on three committees where I charged with the responsibility to represent a certain population of the school. That means that I need to speak up for my peers and say things that maybe difficult to say.
One of the things that I was shocked at when I first got on these committees was how fearless other people were with their comments. They spoke their mind, and expressed viewpoints directly to administration that were critical and direct about controversial issues. I’ve grown to realize that it is exactly this type of discourse that strengthens this school. Speaking truth to power for my school is a reminder that while it’s the teachers’ job to serve the students, it’s the administrators’ charge to serve the teachers.
I had two moments this week when I spoke up. It was hard, but I knew it was the truth. They were comments that reflected what people were thinking but were not saying out in the open. While I knew a lot people shared my thoughts, I also knew that some people were not aware of these concerns.
I felt really insecure for the rest of the day after I made those two comments. It was a new feeling fighting against my instincts to do what I knew to be right. After having a couple people thank me for my comments. Becoming secure to speaking truth to power is about accepting my experience and my evolving role in this community. It’s easy to be the new kid on the block but right now, I need to be something else for my school, take the harder road and do what's right.