Friday, July 21, 2017

Confessions of a New Administrator: Week #6 (The End)

It's hard to believe summer learning is now over!

How can I sum up my thoughts and reflections in a quick blog? When I think back to the beginning of the summer, I was in a completely different place. I have learned and grown so much, and I feel so much more comfortable in the role than when I started. I was actually sad for everything to end yesterday - even in six short weeks, we had developed a school routine and culture that won't ever quite be the same again. 

I'm still processing a lot of the experience and will probably blog later with more reflections, but this final week made me think quite a bit about leading vs. managing. I found myself dreading the last day, not only because it would be full of goodbyes, but because I realized I would be busy in some of my not-so-favorite ways.

When I'm a principal, I love leading out by spending time with my staff and students. Interacting in the hallways, being in classrooms, and helping problem-solve issues are some of my favorite activities. Even the work of visioning, thinking through what needs to happen to prepare for the next week, and setting things up is enjoyable - it's a process that is full of optimism and dreams! I also don't mind the discipline part (most of the time), because it is really reaching kids where they are at.

My good morning welcome ritual with the kids

On the last day, I knew I would be doing a lot of managing. We had several programs in the building taking care of their final follow-up. I'm so grateful for these partnerships, but it meant that I was doing a lot of coordinating and making sure all of that went well. Parents were invited to an open house, which was also fun, but included a lot of showing people where to go and making sure kids were signed out if they left with their parents. At the end of the day, there was the packing and double-checking the inventory lists and rooms to make sure everything looked good, and then finishing up final paperwork. I don't want to sound like I dislike the mundane tasks, but I would rather be engaging and enjoying the stuff that makes up education rather than making sure everyone and everything is in the right place at the same time. I know it is important, it's just not as enjoyable!

All packed up and ready to go!
As the last day approached, I was sharing this with a friend (@msventurino), and she said something that stuck with me all day: "Enjoy it with those kiddos. I know you won't have a ton of time to be with them while you're tying up loose ends, and I know you'll make little windows of time." That became my focus - finding little windows of time to really engage in the midst of the management. It certainly helped the day feel better, and I was able to really soak up the relational time (which is what I will miss the most)!

In the end, through all of the leading and managing, it was an amazing experience. I got a sweet note from the parent of a 1st grader that was the best encouragement and affirmation I could ask for to end the day.

"Thank you for opening your school to (student) this summer. I've never seen her so excited or engaged to attend school. This is a testament to your leadership. She loves to remind me that her summer principal has the best name. Thank you for being such an ideal example of leadership and compassion."

Thank you, everyone who made Summer Learning 2017 amazing! Even as we all go off into new adventures, I know that the memories and the lessons learned will stick with me!


  1. Aubrey, what a fabulous experience. I actually cried when I read the parent letter. That's a definite keeper!!! You truly made a difference and may have found your calling a long the way. I think we can all use Mari's advice . . . find those little pockets of time and make the most of them. So proud and happy for you!!!

    Xox . . . Marilyn

  2. Only one first time, Aubrey, so high five & congratulations on jobs well done, abundant learning!

  3. Aubrey - it has been so fun reading about how you're growing as an administrator. It gives me hope for the future of leadership in Colorado schools!