What I’ve learned so far

Have I learned anything as a new elementary principal?  You bet.

Many of my ah-ha’s are just affirmations of what was expected, but others are truly illuminating.

Relationships are #1.  A no-brainer to be sure.  But the extent to which these relationships are built, cared for and maintained is more than I expected.  And my scope of influence/need is greater.  Time is required and well-spent.  I enjoy the conversations I have with new folks–parents, students, new colleagues and support personnel.  But I am torn about the time.  It harkens back to my ‘to do’ list and how these conversations cannot be checked off as I do the usual items of the day.  But instead of feeling a loss at the time and looming ‘to do’ list, I now jot down a few notes about the conversation and person with whom I spoke.  It helps me remember the interactions and validates it as time well spent.

Kids are awesome!  I thought for sure I would miss my classroom, the excitement of back-to-school and the anticipation of a new year.  But now, rather than 30 kids, I’ve got 388!  I get to experience some of the rock star-status that kindergarten and first grade teachers feel every year.  Our youngest learners’ eyes light up when they recognize someone on campus and even know their name–now that’s me!  And boy do they like to share!  Mrs. Haugen, can I tell you something?  Of course.  And I’m down on one knee, in a remarkably uncomfortable chair or crouching down to look in those eyes and hear the story.

Staff meeting are tricky.  Is it an information item for the bulletin?  Will it need a brief check-in?  Is it a full-blown conversation?  Is it a right-now item or an in-a-month item?  Where do the debriefs from district committees, PTA and school site council fit in?  Three staff meetings into my new role, and I’m concerned about all the things that a staff meeting contains.  And I’m particularly sensitive to teachers’ stamina for after-school meetings when we’re most tired and needing to make important, thoughtful decisions.  Maybe if the meeting runs effectively, no one will be watching the clock?  Is that possible?  I’ve already moved our Wednesday meeting to 1:15 rather than 3pm.  I think it’s a good decision.  Then we can finish our day with training, collaborative tasks or preparation for the week.

I am enjoying myself.  I headed down this new career path with anticipation and excitement.  Enough colleagues and people I value had recommended I consider leadership more officially.  But now that I’m here, I really like it.  Yes, it’s only eight days into the school year, but I feel good about these eight days.  I’m not making any rock-the-boat-type changes, since my goals for the first year are around culture and communication.  On this front, I feel like I’m got a positive momentum.  And above all, I smile a lot.  All the time.

I’m thrilled to be constantly learning.  I find it challenging, motivating and just plain fun.  And they haven’t fired me yet.  <grin>


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