I recently made the mistake of mentioning to my boss that I was perhaps, possibly, some time in the not-too-distant future, maybe interested in climbing a little further up the management tree.
"Great," she said. "It's that keen, hungry spirit that we really need in education at the mo' - you go for it!"
"Wow," I thought. "She's really into the idea. I'll apply for a few courses, start mapping out my future, work on my vision for educational reform. I'll be a good senior manager - I won't let the power go to my head. I'll be tough as required, but I'll still keep the common touch." Now it seems that every problem that comes my way is somehow deemed to be "good for me" - character building, useful, all part of my professional development. This shift in expectation also happens to have coincided with my termus horribilis - the one where everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, leaving me growling and shaking and cursing like a fishwife.
Yes, I understand that the best way to learn is through diving head first into the thick of it all and just ploughing on - I'm constantly telling trainee teachers that books and lectures cannot begin to replace the reality of the classroom in terms of skills development. But surely the benefits of gaining "field experience" are only benefits if your sanity remains intact? Mine is now questionable. Perhaps it's an omen, a warning call, telling me that my latent desires to control the world are going to give me more annoyance than I would actually like in my life.
Maybe I'll retract my ambition, stay where I am. At least at the moment I still have the use of my fallback phrase: "Don't blame me - I'm just a middle manager. I don't have any real power."
Louisa Leaman, Behaviour co-ordinator at a London school.