Saturday, June 24, 2017

Confessions of a New Administrator: Week #3

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!

After Week #3, I am looking around and realizing that this new role I have is starting to feel...almost normal?  How can that be?  I don't think my days are any less hectic, but I am learning to adapt to my new role!  Even after just a few weeks, here are some of the changes I am noticing in myself:

  • I am much more comfortable switching gears - instantly!
    I may peacefully be doing paperwork in the office, in my "organizing" mode, and have an unhappy parent walk in, necessitating a switch into "mediator" mode.  Or I may be working with a student who was sent to the office, in "discipline/support" mode, and hear a call on the radio that a student ran off, forcing a momentary change into "searching" mode.  I may be enjoying a lesson in the classroom, going into my more comfortable "teaching" mode, and then have a visitor show up and transition into "outreach" mode.  I've learned not to get too attached to what I'm doing at any one time, and to be ready for something drastically different in the next moment!
  • I am much more comfortable NOT knowing.
    Wait, the principal's supposed to have all of the answers, right?  Wrong.  Often, I come into a situation in the middle of the story and I have to jump in and proceed without knowing all of the background.  This happens with students, parents, and staff.  I tend to be a person who likes to gather the details and then make a plan, but that is just not feasible in many situations.  I'm learning to move forward with confidence, even without knowing exactly what is happening all of the time.
  • I am much more willing to trust my gut.
    With so many different situations coming my way, how do I decide how to handle them all?  If situations are easy, my teachers handle them on their the time they get to me, they have usually escalated.  Related to the NOT knowing, I usually haven't seen these kids through the whole day to determine their triggers or really understand why they are behaving in a certain way, but I still have to do something about it.  I have really been trusting my gut instincts about what supports might help these kids, and more often than not, it has worked out well!  This goes beyond discipline, too...especially in a 5 or 6 week program, I don't have the time to develop long-term relationships (at least for now).  In all of my interactions with students and adults, I am really trusting my gut to tell me what is needed in each situation!
  • I am getting better about not living in fear.
    I know this is an ongoing lesson for me - it is so easy for insecurities and fear to rise up and dominate my day.  Being in a position where I am expected to step up and move past that has forced me to really step up and move past that!  When a parent comes storming into the office, upset, it bothers me less than it used to - I can take a deep breath, smile, greet that parent, and trust that we can work toward resolution (or at least a place were we can be civil with each other)!  When someone makes a suggestion, rather than immediately wondering if they think I'm doing a bad job, I can smile, thank them for the suggestion, and appreciate that we are all trying to make this school the best that it can be.  When I have to make a hard decision, rather than wallowing back and forth and worrying about the consequences, I can take a minute to think about it, look at the facts, and then decide and move on.  I'm not perfect at this, but I have really noticed that these interactions do not stick with me in the way they used to - I spend less time worrying about the future and more time focusing on the present! 
I love being an administrator and watching the magic that happens in the school environment - support staff being incredibly efficient and flexible, teachers bringing out the best in their students, students being so excited about learning.  But another cool part of this journey has been for me to take a moment and reflect on how it has changed me.  Sometimes it feels like we give so much to our work and relationships, and it's good to remember that they give back too!

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