I am entering the 12th week of my new job as an associate principal. My world has changed drastically in the last 12 weeks. For one, I have not written anything besides email after email in that period. I have been absent as a contributor to the blogosphere. From time to time I have read the works of George Couros and Chris Wejr to help me stay grounded as I experience something new every minute of my day. My days as a teacher used to be more prescribed with flashes of the unexpected. Now my days are continual flashes of the unexpected. I move from meeting to meeting, classroom to classroom, and student to student while continually working to ensure success for everyone in my building. I spoke with the other principal in my building for over an hour on Friday reflecting upon the first quarter of our school year, and where we go from here. During my 35-minute commute, I turned the radio off and thought about my journey and what I have learned over the past 11 weeks.
1. Stay calm
It is easy to get excited, antsy, upset, and frustrated, but in a position of leadership, stay calm. You will make better decisions nine times out of ten when you let the dust settle and gather the facts instead of reacting to the situation at hand.
2. Kids are the driving force of a school
I knew this as a teacher, and I see it even more clearly as a principal. We all work in schools because we love kids, but to see the entire student body and not just your classroom is something special. To see the energy that kids exude daily as they learn and grow is powerful.
I have used the term countless times, and heard it used over and over again when people talk about schools. Everyone is right; RELATIONSHIPS are the foundation upon which schools are built. If you do not have trusted, positive, and respectful relationships with your staff, students, and parents, your school will exhibit a negative climate instead of a positive climate. Relationships are not about hoping or making sure everyone likes you. They are about making decisions based on what is right, not popular. They are about crucial conversations that will help your school grow.
A smile goes a long way. Whether it is with a kid, a coworker, or a parent, we all need to smile more often. Helping each other and being supportive of individual needs creates an environment of caring. When people care for each other, they smile. Smiles breed positivity.
Have I been perfect in my first 11 weeks? Will I ever be perfect? The answer to those two questions is obviously NO. I can only continue to push my thinking and learn from my fellow administrators, teachers, students, and PLN to make sure I grow to help support the growth of my school. I need to continually remind myself of that the four themes I outlined here will help me be a better principal everyday.