I was asked, as a principal with some experience, to share some wisdom with the new principals in Sturgeon School Division. This year we have a lot of schools with new principals and a few with new principals and vice principals. Those of use who have a few years of experience have been asked to provide a video of what we have learned and would like to pass on to those just starting out. This video is the first of three I will be posting over the next while.
I am in a new school this year, so I refer to that in the video (just to provide some context) – and forgive me for the ridiculous expression in the photo grab before the video is played!
I’m not sure which of the items in the title that I am most excited about. I found Spiderman, Wolverine and Captain America Socks at a comic book store in Edmonton last week. Being 87% nerd, that got me a bit excited. I think I will be looking for more theme socks in the future. (I did give the Wolverine pair to my oldest son)
Today is the third day I’m in my new office at my new school, getting ready for a new school year. The office is not officially open until Monday, but like many principals, I’m in trying to get my head wrapped around a new way of doing things. Our school division is going through a huge transition with the majority of schools seeing one or both of the administrators as new to the position. It is going to be an exciting and interesting year as we learn and grow together.
My new school is about twice the size of my previous assignment, but still the same configuration (PreK – 4). I’ve found it interesting how two schools, that do the exact same job, can approach certain things in very different ways. I’ve been through the staff handbook and made a few changes, but I think I will have to do quite a bit of observation over the next few weeks/months before making any big changes.
I usually get a bit excited about change, and this is no different. I don’t get as excited about meeting new people, so I am a bit nervous about that. So far though, everyone has been great. Hopefully they are patient as I work at applying those Principal Quality Standards to a new situation!
Here’s to a great school year for everyone; and I’d appreciate any kind of feedback throughout the year as I continue to post my reflections.
Well, it’s the last hour of the last day of school before the break. Some classes are watching movies, some are in the gym, some students didn’t come today. We’ve done some caroling together, we finished our concert last night (to rave reviews) and some of the decorations are being taken down.
Energy was very high at the concert. Parents are talking about it on Facebook. The concert was relatively simple, but fun and engaging. We always do a great job.
Today, even though everyone is busy keeping students occupied, and getting things done. The energy is waning. It’s been very busy and lots of learning has happened since September. But, as anyone who is involved in education knows, we run on full tilt and then as a break approaches, we breathe a sigh and crash for a while.
To all my educator friends and followers, Have a great break and come back energized in the New Year!
I have had the privilege of working with an outstanding new Vice Principal for the last two years. It became apparent very soon that she was destined for bigger and better things. I was hoping to be able to work with her for at least another year, but alas, that was not to be. We found out yesterday she was being transferred to a larger K – 9 School. It is a great move for her and will serve to advance her opportunities for future administrative positions.
I think what has made this situation such a great one is that I have been able to learn so much from working with her. Her ability to think on her feet and the solid grounding in a child centered philosophy has served to reinforce my own approach to education and administration. We have been able to move our school forward and the movement is gaining traction.
When we work with stellar people, that make us move forward, and undeniably make us better people ourselves, it is hard to let go and move on. Now, there are some difficult decisions to make. What are the next steps? How will I proceed with a different and potentially inexperienced assistant? How do we keep the momentum going?
There are no certain answers to any of these. Change is inevitable, and can be exciting. We (I) will get through this time of change and opportunity. I was party to making a great choice last time, and will have to trust that the right choice will be made this time.
Losing your metaphorical Right Arm is tough! I will have to look forward to my new Right Arm and undertake the effort to replicate the formation of a new and dynamic administrative partner.
So, I’ve seen a lot of posts on Twitter and on blogs lately about Student Engagement. As I was perusing through Twitter today, I misread one of those posts by substituting principal for student, and the idea immediately clicked with me. What would Principal Engagment look like?
Right away, some thoughts that come to mind are:
- A willingness to learn.
- Open to change
- Passionate about school culture
Being willing to invest in other people. That includes students, parents and staff
I think that there could be a great discussion about this. Do you have any thoughts about this that you would like to contribute. I would love to hear them.
I will be presenting about Blogging, and to some degree Twitter at our January 31st PD Day. A panel of teachers from Sturgeon will be talking about Social Media in the schools. I am glad to see this session being offered, and am excited to be able to be presenting what I have learned so far about Twitter and Blogging. I thought as a lead up to that presentation, I would try to start formulating my thoughts around the value of the blog as an administrative and teaching tool.
I have had a few different blogs over the years, but I find this one, which I use for personal reflection and as my professional growth plan to be the most effective and empowering iteration. I enjoy the opportunity to share what is going on professionally with the opportunity for others to question, provide feedback, provide encouragement, and hopefully move others forward as well.
I definitely owe a lot of the progress I have made in the social media direction to Twitter. It was Twitter that connected me with leaders who are at some point of the same journey as myself. We are seeking to move forward in a world that is changing quickly and causing us to respond in the way we see as the most appropriate. Twitter connected me with the Leadership20 webinar series that motivated me to start this blog.
Blogging forces me to think clearly about what I am doing to make change happen. That alone is very important, but when people I work with read it, It leads to great discussions about leadership and change. Discussions about leadership styles and role of the leader and the follower in moving an organization forward. Blogging allows for and encourages reflective thinking in the writer and the reader
Putting your thoughts on an open platform is powerful and risky. Some of the responses cause me to question the reasons why I write what I do, some cause me to think further about what I have communicated, and some cause me to totally change my mind. I love having discussions; not debates, because that’s about winning and losing. If my thoughts, which I have put out there for the world to see, cause anyone else to think about their practice, or help them to question mine, that is a great thing.
Using a blog as a portfolio of your professional growth is an incredible tool. Placing your proof of growth and change on a public venue really makes one take responsibility for their own development in a way a file in a desk drawer that isn’t visible can do.
One byproduct of blogging is that it shows the value I place on using tools that connect me with current 21st Century (although I dislike that term) tools. Blogging can be used in many different ways in the school and in the classroom. I have a few teachers using a blog to communicate with parents about what is going on in class, but they are also being used as lesson planning tools, sub planning tools, and tools to connect with other classrooms around the world.
These are just my initial thoughts around blogging and what I might present on January 31st, I don’t have a lot of time allotted, but want to get the idea across that blogging is a great tool for teachers and administrators to use.
Well, today is the last day of school before the break, and one of the worst apocalypses I’ve ever experienced…
But, with all the extra time I now have with the world not ending, I can fit in a blog post!
The impending Christmas holiday (1 hour and 19 minutes from the time I write this) will give us all a chance to recharge our biological batteries and come back renewed for 2013. I really don’t make resolutions, but I think it wouldn’t hurt to think about things I need to remind myself about often. Nothing profound here, just some thoughts as this is probably my last blog of 2012.
1. Don’t ever forget who we work for – Parents and students!
2. Remember complaining doesn’t get the same results as conversation.
3. I am the only person I ultimately have any control over. If I’m looking for change, I have to make it happen.
4. If it is to be, it is up to me. (words I definitely try to live by)
5. Everyone has their reasons for doing what they do – don’t be too quick to judge.
6. If a job seems overwhelming, set a small goal to start with.
7. Be welcoming… ALWAYS
9. Take time to think. Think before you talk.
10. An apology goes a LONG way!
I hope everyone reading this has a great Holiday, no matter how long or short it is!