A few years ago, I was in a rut and not sure if I wanted to teach anymore.  I was actually two weeks away from taking a leave of absence to pursue other opportunities.  Luckily, I was offered a job just outside the city of Edmonton, Alberta and thought that the change of scenery might inspire me more.  I moved and it has been the best decision of my life.

Although I did enjoy the change of scenery and a new city, it was my principal at the time that really helped me change things around for me and help shape my beliefs as an administrator.

As the tech integration coordinator of the school, my job was to work with educators on how to feel comfortable using technology to improve student learning in the classroom.  Looking at the schedule that I was given, I knew that it was not a best fit for the goals I wanted to achieve in this position.  Knowing that it could change I asked my principal at the time if I could adjust some things in the schedule and she told me, “We hired you to do this job so if you believe that a different schedule will work better, then go for it!”  The term “Go for it!”, was something that she used (uses) with myself and others a lot.

I also remember her pulling me into the office to ask me what I believed would be the best way to spend money on technology in the building.  I thought, “Me, a teacher having say on the budget?  This is unbelievable!”.  Again, she deferred to me as the expert in the area and trusted me to make the best decisions for this school.

What had changed for me in that one year at that school (I became an administrator in the following year in the same division) was that I felt I really had purpose in the school. I felt that I was impacting the present and the future of what was happening in that school.  Because of this sense of purpose, I felt ownership of the school and the direction that it was going.  Once I felt this, my job had turned into a passion.

Learning from my last principal (who has now become a wonderful Superintendent of mine), if I can work with teachers and use their strengths in the school to find their own purpose, they will have more satisfaction in their job and take more ownership of the school.  I also know that if I am able to lead by example in this way, staff will help students find their purpose in the classroom.  This is not about fabricating strengths; it is about revealing what is already there.  It changed my career and I hope that I can help others find their purpose like my principal did for me.

12 thoughts on “Purpose

  1. Royan Lee

    Everythig you say about leadership always inspires me. Isn't it funny how the people whose paths we cross have an indelible impact on our lives? Imbibe if you hadn't met that principal?

    1. George Post author

      Life would be so much different and I don't think that I would be as happy as I am now. Thanks for the kind words!

  2. Mike Nantais

    Another inspiring post, George. I had a Principal like that too, honouring other's expertise and providing room and encouragement to work only leads to good things.

  3. Jerelyne (@jneman)


    This post reminded me of the key points of Drive by Daniel Pink: "This new approach has three essential elements: 1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery — the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves." Your post brought me back to thinking about these as I go into the new year – also made search out one of Pink's video and watch it again – now trying to define my sentence:) http://www.danpink.com/archives/2010/01/2question

  4. Aviva (@grade1)

    George, this is another fantastic blog post! I've been fortunate to work with some wonderful principals that give me (and many other teachers) an opportunity to lead in the school: allowing us to use our strengths to help others. This is incredibly fulfilling as a teacher, and allows us to really find our purpose. Thank you for reminding all of us about the importance of this!

    I'm glad that you chose to stay in education because I think you're an outstanding principal and have definitely inspired me numerous times. Thank you for all you do!


  5. Dave

    I too was in a rut a couple of years back. I suppose I began to look at other ways to change within my current position and technology has been part of that change. While I have implemented things at a much slower pace than I would have liked, I learned some valuable new methods and techniques. I think Jerelyne's 2nd point is quite valid in my recent thoughts – mastery the urge to get better.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. Shawn Ram

    Well put George. Great post, it nice to hear that us little fish out there aren't the only ones that have questioned what we do, yet have pushed through and found new successes, passions and motivations.

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