I get this question a lot, and I never really know how to answer. It leaves me a bit dumbfounded, actually.
“Since you left teaching for the principalship, do you miss the kids?” I am asked.
I'll say, “What do you mean?”
“Oh, you know. Like, do you miss having a class? Your own class? Your own kids?”
No. Absolutely not.
Because, seriously, I have my own kids. Not the same kids, every day, like I did when I was a teacher. Instead, I have more than ever—almost 700, in fact. Lots and lots of kids that I get to see whenever I want. Or whenever they want. And even, sometimes, in the case of a discipline issue, when neither of us wants.
Sure, it's different than when I had a classroom and a desk and a roster with my name on it. But it's not bad-different. Not for me, anyway.
Of course there are a lot of things about school leadership that don't involve direct interaction with kids—there's paperwork, scheduling, evaluations, facilities, teacher support, parent and community involvement, and so on. All of those things really do have a direct impact on students and their learning, which is why I value them a whole, whole lot.
But there's direct kid time, too. From greeting kids in the morning as they get off the bus, to visiting classrooms, to one-on-one conversations with students, I get to see a lot of them through each day and over the course of a school year.
My contact with them covers a wildly-wide spectrum, mind you. Sometimes I am celebrating with a giddy child who has learned to read a Level-1 book and has come to my office to read it to me. Sometimes I am dolling out a consequence to a sobbing, remorseful, apologetic student who "accidentally" stole a handful of cookies from the cafeteria. I may be calming a still-very-angry student who punched an opponent during a heated football game on the playground. The pendulum swings wildly, and I swing with it. From happy to heated, from funny to sad, I am constantly given the opportunity to ride along with students during their best and worst moments.
Here's the thing: Even though I'm no longer a teacher, I still feel like I make a big impact on kids. When I talk with them—in passing, or in a deep conversation in my office—I work hard to connect with them and teach them something. Or be open to learning as they teach me something—which, by the way, happens more frequently than not.
So, no. Leaving teaching to be a principal didn't make me miss kids at all... because they are still all around, surrounding me, and constantly—constantly!—reminding me why I'm here.