Sunday, January 01, 2006

Just why did I leave?


final exam
Originally uploaded by dcJohn.
This past Friday, I had the pleasure of speaking with the head of a mid-western independent boarding school. He'd received my email the day before and wanted to chat about the possibilities. During the course of the conversation, he asked why I'd left teaching more than a decade ago. I'd been on the faculty for six years; what made me leave?

There are, I believe, a myriad of reasons why any of us do anything, but I left that independent school for two primary reasons. First, I wanted to live in a cabin in the woods and write. Second, I didn't want to be a part of a school where change was implemented deceitfully.

I did go to the woods and write. We moved to the woods in north western Virginia and lived in a cabin up a mountain near Linden, Virginia. I didn't write the great American novel, but I did finish a still-unsold-screenplay, Storm Warriors.

As to deceitful change... I am about transparency. Say what you do. Do what you say. Do it in the open. I think this is tough for many organizations, particularly those going through a transition period. It is, however, incumbent on the leaders of the organization to lead... that is to set the vision and get all stakeholders lined up and headed toward that goal. And, good leaders do this all in plain sight. From where I sat at that time, what I saw was a new head making changes without regard to key stakeholders and without involving key stakeholders. That's not the type of community I want to live and work in.

There's another, reciprocal question I expect to be asked. Why go back to teaching now?

Like I noted earlier, there are a myriad of reasons each of us decide to jump in a particular direction. For me, now, two reasons loom large. First, professionally, I'm ready for something different. I've been working as an organizational consultant for nearly ten years; the challenge has faded. Second, I've acquired a slew of learning in the last couple of years I'd like to put to some use in an environment outside of government and in a smaller organization. Third, I'd like to know I really make a difference; I don't get that in my current role. And, fourth, I'd like my family to enjoy the benefits, growth, and community of an independent boarding school.

1 comment:

dcJohn said...

Hi there. I'm always curious to see the "life" my photo have after I post them, and I enjoyed reading over your blog. As someone else who's job hunting in academia, you have my sympathy and well wishes.