I spent the last few days at the Day School Leadership Training Institute, a Davidson School Field Program where I mentor and teach new and aspiring heads of schools. My responsibilities at DSLTI include spending three hours per week coaching and mentoring new heads of schools, dedicating three weeks during the summer co-teaching important leadership topics such as vision, mission and Jewish educational leadership; and helping facilitate two three-day retreats per year. During this last retreat, I co-taught an intensive five-session seminar about the power of strategic thinking to further a school’s mission. Often, people ask me why I do this. Aren’t I busy enough? Don’t I have too many school responsibilities to take this time away?
Part of the answer is clear to me – I get just as much from teaching and mentoring as I hope my mentees get from me sharing my professional experiences. This time away from Carmel makes me a better leader. Having the opportunity to think and learn with other leaders in the Jewish educational field, and to give back to a profession that has given me so much is critical to my professional growth. An unexpected yet equally rewarding benefit to mentoring is that the experience has been a strong vehicle for self-reflection. Harvard Business School Professor Francesca Gino states: “Now more than ever we seem to be living lives where we’re busy and overworked, and our research shows that if we’d take some time out for reflection, we might be better off.” This certainly rings true. Life as an educational leader is hectic. Stepping off the treadmill of everyday life and having the opportunity to reflect upon my practice and think of new initiatives invigorates me, allows me to be creative, makes me a better practitioner, and, ultimately, makes Carmel Academy a better school.