July 1st will mark the beginning of a new adventure for me. I will transition into the role of principal. I look forward to this new challenge and step into the role with high expectations of myself. I will continue to use reflection as a major tool going into the principalship. Reflection allows me to grow! In this blog, I’ll share a few of my thoughts going in. It will be interesting to look back on this later to see how my mindset changes. I’m sure that later I’ll look back thinking how naive and oblivious I was.
1. People come first. Our district’s superintendent, Ross Renfrow, often reminds stakeholders that the three most important words in education are relationships, relationships, and relationships. I have the belief going in that if people in our school respect, support, trust, and care about one another we will be successful. I am lucky that our school is already known as a positive place that welcomes everyone. I’m a firm believer in the following quote: “Take care of people and they will take care of you.” If there is one thing that we must get right, let it be treating other people right.
2. It is we, not me. One of my mentors, Ben Williams, taught me to be very careful of the pronouns that I used around a school. The pronouns a leader uses speaks volumes about their character. Like Steven Weber likes to say “the room, is the smartest person in the room.” No one person is more important than the team, everyone matters. In order to maintain a team-oriented atmosphere, we must speak in terms of us, we, our and not I, me, and mine. It’s not my school. It’s our school.
3. Pick a few things to be good at and do “the heck out of them”. In my first year I do not plan on throwing the kitchen sink at my staff, students, and parents. We cannot try every new idea that I find on Twitter. I believe it’s best to make a short list of ideas/strategies to concentrate on as a school. I’m a huge proponent of change and innovation. I just know the value of consistency. Try new ideas. Just don’t bounce from idea to idea aimlessly. If you experienced success after trying 25 new things, how would you know which strategies were effective?
4. I must have balance. My family will come first. I must be present at home. I cannot be checking email during family time. My chair cannot always be empty during dinner. Work is important. Our students, staffs, and school are all very important. However, we must all remember that family comes first. Our lives need balance and that means we have to have the ability to turn school off. Professional success is contingent on personal success. If we are not healthy at home we cannot be healthy at school.
5. I’m not alone in this. I’m glad that I’ve decided to be a connected educator. As I move into the principalship, I plan on calling upon my PLN. I will continue to call upon my mentors within my district. I will reach out to fellow First Year principals. I will ask principals in my feeder pattern for advice. Fellow educators who I connect with on Twitter and Voxer will also be great resources. We have come too far as a society to work in isolation. I don’t think anyone could have said it better than when Kevin Honeycutt said on Twitter, “To have thousands of fellow minds in your pocket via mobile devices is to have an immensely unfair advantage over humans who think alone.”
6. Learning must be a priority. It’s lead learner, not lead “knower.” I know that I have much to learn in the realm of education. There will always be a more innovative approach, a better way, or a new solution. New ideas are out there, it’s up to us to find them. Todd Nesloney (Kid’s Deserve It!) said, “We live in a world where we can no longer claim ignorance…only an unwillingness to learn. ” I believe learning is something that lead learners must choose to model on a daily basis. We cannot consider ourselves as finished products. We must make learning our priority, so that teachers make learning a priority, so that students make learning their priority.
But what do I know, I’m just a newbie principal.