A New Balancing Act

Change is good.

I’ve recently learned I’ll be moving to another elementary school in our district for the 2015-2016 school year.  I’m super nervous.

Here at my current school, I had been a teacher for a long time, a teacher leader and now the principal.  The transition couldn’t have been more smooth.  Shockingly so to most people who were expecting a rocky road.  Not wishing it on us but generally expecting the move from “us” to “them” to be a challenge.  I attribute the ease of transition to the healthy culture of our school and community.

And now I begin for real.  I’m looking at this new opportunity as my “real” first administrative job.  The time to listen, build trust, learn the culture, feel the climate… that’ll be a new experience for me.  Am I patient enough for the time it takes?

An intact staff who’ve mostly been together for a long time.  I’ll be a new person.  The boss. The leader.   What routines will I inherit, bring in new, want to change or fall in love with?

And students.  The students bring a smile to my face.  I know a handful of them.  But those smiling faces, excited stories, earnest introductions and shy looks… it’s why I get up in the morning.  Will they miss their former principal and be wary of me?  Will they match my warm smile, arms out for a hug or hand out for a high five?

What about the community?  Are they wondering who I am?  It’s a small town with a healthy rumor mill and I’d imagine they’re hearing positive things and asking questions of their friends who know me.  Parents are the cornerstone of a successful education.  I can’t wait to meet them all.

So I balance.  Standing on one leg, on a wobbly ball, holding my arms out for balance.  And I struggle.  And I know why.  It’s a sad farewell, a hand off to a new principal for my school (I’m really excited for her), a time for welcomes and questions as I pick up the reins at a new site with the management tasks of two schools as the transition unfurls.

It’s going to be an extra long summer.  Not time wise but task wise.  So much to learn, think about, plan for and communicate.  Change is good.  Right?  I’m already learning so much about myself, my leadership, my methods and needs.

photo (15)For my own Mother’s Day treat, I went for a walk at the beach.  I even took a selfie.  #silly  I was thinking of my #7wordstory as I walked and listened to the waves, birds and wind.  The crackling, sucking sound the sand makes as the water moves in and out.  There’s even a buoy’s bell I could hear now and then.  The ball I balance on was still for a few minutes.  It was perfect.  I’m ready for the week ahead.  And I’ll count on another walk on the beach for a bit of balance along the way.

Holding my Breath

It’s not good when you find yourself taking a gulp of air only to realize you’d been holding it longer than is comfortable.

Tight chest.  Agonizingly busy mind.  Restlessness.  Sleepless nights but no recollection of dreams or disturbances.  Reading as lost its relaxing quality.

What’s going on!?!?  This job is overwhelming.  That’s an every day realization.  I tell people it’s a minor miracle we pull off this whole school thing the way we do.  An absolute miracle.

You want to talk plate spinning?  Let’s talk.

But this is different.

And talk about frustrating that I can’t put my finger on it.  Our most recent elementary admin meeting brought us to our knees.  SBAC expectations, 1:1 iPad rollout next year, new superintendent coming on board, shifts in elementary site leadership, the list goes on… the big ticket items just kept coming.

And there it is.  My little elementary school, our amazing students and invested community.  That’s my fuel.  That’s the plate-spinning that I love.

But the big ticket items, district-wide, looming, impacting us all (good, bad, otherwise).  That’s another kettle of fish entirely.  This isn’t new but the import of what’s coming, our earnest desire to be united and speak with one voice, our investment in supporting staff, students and families… it’s a heavy load.  It’s a plate you just can’t spin.

And I’m excited, motivated, 100% in it to win it, but the weight is overwhelming me.  Stealing my breath and keeping me up at night.

Now for the good news.

This helps.  My poor keyboard is reeling from the pounding of my fingers.  And I’ve got a team of incredible leaders around me.  Here in Petaluma, on Voxer, onTwitter and at Grant School.  People are awesome.  They come along side, share words of encouragement, offer to help or just listen, and provide comic relief just when it’s needed most.  People are awesome.

The load hasn’t lightened but by sharing it with you, working out my restlessness through my fingertips, I can breath again.  With reminders.  Breath in, breath out. Thanks friends.