Sunday, June 18, 2017

Confessions of a New Administrator: Week #2

This summer, I am getting my first hands-on experience at being a building administrator for my site of about 300 1st-5th graders.  I know that summer school is different than the regular school year, but much of the "blitz" I am feeling reminds me of being a first year teacher (and what I expect being a first year administrator may feel like).  One of my personal commitments in blogging is to be honest, open, and transparent (while protecting privacy) about my experiences - and I'm sure that, someday, I will smile looking back at what I was feeling at this time.  Hopefully it can help someone else learn, too!

Week #2 of summer school brought the most important thing: STUDENTS!  

They started last Monday and we had a full day, complete with tie-dye and presentations from the local library.  My days have been moving at a fast and furious pace, but the weekend has been helpful for me to reflect!

14 loads of tie-dye later...

I won't lie, Monday was hard.  

It was so exciting to have 300 kiddos walk in, but there were of course several first-day wrinkles to smooth out, such as making sure kids were in the right place, answering parent questions about transportation and teachers and forms and everything else, and ensuring our guests who were running the tie-dye and library stations had everything they needed.  None of that was a big deal, but then we had a couple of large-scale incidents (the kind that require a lot of paperwork and calling in outside agencies for follow-up) that really threw me off.  My thought process:
"Uh oh, this is not good, this is a big deal.
Everyone is looking at me.
Oh, wait, this is my job to figure out what to do. 
I don't know how to handle this! 
But I'd better figure it out!"
Between these incidents and other smaller-scale discipline issues, I was worn out by the end of the day.  I realized that I had spent a lot of time stuck in a "what a principal should be like" mindset and didn't spend a lot of time being myself.  As a result, I didn't feel very good about the way I handled discipline or how I connected with people.  I went home feeling discouraged and wondering how people actually handle this job on a daily basis.

And then came the turning point of my week.  

I had sent an email out to my staff, thanking them for a great first day (and including updates & changes to make things flow more smoothly the rest of the week), and one of my teachers wrote an encouraging email back.  I didn't realize how much I needed that affirmation until I saw it!  Her words just gave me a little spark of confidence and a reminder that, despite the chaos and issues of the day, there were many things that went well.

Never underestimate the power of goes a long way!

The rest of the week went so much more smoothly!  

I returned on Tuesday with a renewed sense of identity, and promised myself that I would handle discipline in a way that felt like me, not some fake sense of what it "should" be.  And you know what?  The kids responded much more positively!  They can really sense it when you are not confident!  We were able to put some positive supports in place for students who needed a little more, and I was able to spend a lot more time in classrooms, which is exactly the way I wanted it.  There were still plenty of bumps in the road, but I felt much more confident in my ability to handle them.  By Thursday, most of our logistical challenges were worked out so we could just focus on the kids and the learning!

And even though I have been exhausted and my head has been spinning, trying to keep track of everything that I'm supposed to remember throughout the day, I've loved it.  I love working at that fast pace and I love being able to support both kids & adults when they just need a little extra.  As a principal, I feel like I handle the big problems and the little problems (my teachers handle the in-between ones)!  When things escalate past the classroom level, they get to me and I get to deal with them - these are the big problems.  The small, silly things that just take time, like getting a new roll of tape or sorting out T-shirts also become my job so teachers can just pick up and go.  I am learning a lot about how to support a diverse group of people and prioritize the many things that come to me in a day.

What will next week bring?

Well, for one, we have our first field trip tomorrow (for all students), which will be another great adventure to be sure!  I can't wait to see our students continue to learn and grow as we dive further into the program!  For a peek into our last week, see the pictures below:

1st grade tested the strength of different kinds of paper
and recorded their observations!
2nd grade built mazes for hexbots and tested their designs!
3rd grade had to build a bridge to get the car across the river
using spaghetti and marshmallows!
4th grade designed, built,
 and launched their own rockets!
5th grade worked on collaboration & teamwork by going
through the design process to plan a picnic!

Here's to another week of Summer Learning fun!

1 comment:

  1. I love reading about your admin adventures! Thank you for being so transparent throughout this process. I'm learning a lot from reading your blog :)