How do you know when it's a job or a calling? And does it even matter?
I think I can speak for most school leaders in saying that our jobs truly are a calling, a desire deep inside to make a difference and be a leader. It's that altruistic perspective on taking a stance on issues, moving organizations in their support of student learning, and working with so many in our communities to provide for the needs of our students.
I knew I wanted to be a school leader when, as a student teacher, I carefully observed the principal at my assigned school site. There was something magical in the way he said to a colleague, "You're doing yard work this weekend? What time should I come over to haul out the stump?"
Being a leader in public education isn't easy. On most days, it is one of the most thankless, loneliest jobs I could imagine. Depending on the level of one's assignment, the middle management role can also mean you're sandwiched in between others and it can seem like nothing you do is going to please anyone. And does it matter if we please everyone or just if we do what's right with kids? It's a balancing act!
The work I do is a calling. Based on the hours we put in, its certainly not the paycheck or the retirement. We do the work we do because we believe in leadership. Because we want to improve the student condition. Because somewhere along the way someone saw something in us that led us down this road of leadership. Because when we climb into bed, exhausted past midnight, there is a spark of something during the day that "you're doing the right thing, kid."
It certainly isn't a job. It's a calling. And more. Much more.