Independent schools are known for one notorious yet universal truth: boarding school ecosystems often exist in a bubble. That dreaded “boarding school bubble” can help maintain the status quo of any given school culture, for better or worse.
One of the most common complaints I hear from my roster of consulting clients is that long-standing obstacles or issues - whether it’s disciplinary protocol or internal communication amongst educators and administration - can be challenging to overcome due to a lack of time, resources, or community buy-in. What has always been a problem can often persist until a high-functioning educator shoulders the issue independently (and often on top of an already existing mile-long to-list). The mindset of “that’s how it’s always been done” only slows down progress, and often persists when an outside perspective or alternative is not presented.
In other words: educator consultants are a necessary component of driving sustainable change within an independent school. We’re the pin that bursts the boarding school bubble. Educators of all backgrounds and expertise - from newly graduated teachers to mid-career educators transitioning to administration - can benefit from a trusted colleague with no immediate stake in the game. By offering an alternative perspective, educators are better able to tackle large-scale projects and initiatives that improve the overall culture of their school.
But, why consultants? Well, I’m glad you asked.
As a consultant, it’s not my position to diagnose and solve an existing issue independently and without critical input from the larger school community. Rather, I work intensively with an educator to support them through a customized and adaptable problem-solving matrix.
Every educator and consultant relationship is different. Yet, the more I work one-on-one with boarding school educators and administrators, I learn that what educators need from a professional consultant is actually quite simplistic: guidance and support, not an outside authority figure.
What could be worse than having an outsider storming into an existing internal issue, with little to no context of the complex school culture and ecosystem, and immediately start demanding change?
Rather, my style of consulting stems from the point of view that you are already the expert. My role is to help enact a realistic timeline to effectively and efficiently meet your goals.
I have lived and breathed boarding schools for decades now - as a student, as a teacher, as a dean. My knowledge is far-reaching, yet ever-evolving. Moreover, I understand the position many educators find themselves in.
Teaching, particularly without ongoing support, is a high-stress career path. Burnout feels inevitable and even the most seasoned educators find it difficult to keep their heads above water. I’ve been in the trenches and I understand that looming sense of burnout. And I know that burnout does not need to be the standard plight of teaching.
When I work one-on-one with educators, I can offer a unique perspective that mirrors the issue at hand. Together, we create comprehensive solutions that are rooted in best practices, past experiences, and industry knowledge.
Complaining is welcome
Consulting meetings are often a hard-to-come-by opportunity for educators to air their grievances, lament their frustrations, and - let’s be honest - complain. And all of it is welcome and encouraged.
Think of your last staff meeting. Would you feel comfortable openly communicating your innermost feelings and frustrations to your team? Would you feel comfortable explaining in detail every issue that needs to be addressed? Would you use names?
Probably not. Even in the most welcoming, inclusive, and open school environments, openly complaining about x, y, and z is likely frowned upon, particularly if you do not have an immediate solution.
In consulting meetings, the door is open to complaining as it ultimately illuminates deeper obstacles or areas that need improvement. Talking freely is never punishable - you are at no risk of backlash or consequences. Rather, our consulting sessions are a safe place to detail your frustrations so we can better adapt your current situation. I’ll hold space for you so you can be the best educator you possibly can be.
Ready to learn more about consulting? Let’s chat.