This is the Sweet Spot; don’t miss it.

A brief observation:

So much of any given school year is spent straddling the current and future year.  Right now, in these precious few months, things are running, back-to-school stuff is done, and we’re in the sweet spot of here and now.  It doesn’t last long.

Shortly after the holidays end, the straddling time between 14-15 and 15-16 begins.  Where my mind is in constant flux between current planning and future planning, enrollment, kindergarten tours, budget wrap up and budget projection, staffing and facilities’ needs over summer break….

I enjoy this time as much as possible.  It’s the simplest time of year for me.  <holding back hysterical laughter>  Evaluations are chugging along, classroom visits happen with regularity, students come and go, learning and laughing together, parents are finishing conferences with their student’s teacher and everyone is looking forward to the holidays.

To keep myself grounded and enjoying this time of year, I’m reading The Happiness Advantage and Quiet Leadership.  Some inspiring words to buoy me through to 2015.

 

One Week into Summer Break… head spinning

A lot of chatter lately about summer learning, conferences, reading, professional development, etc. along with my own lofty goals along these lines prompted a pause.  It’s one week into summer break for me.  I work week sans students and most staff.  How am I doing?  Wow.  Just wow.

Here’s the short list:

  • At #ieSonoma I was inspired by Sugata Mitra and Nirvan Mullick.
  • I connected with old and new friends at #edcamp Napa and gathered some insight about staff communication and PD time.
  • Finished Digital Leadership and continue to participate in #voxerbookchat with a bunch of other amazing folks.
  • Started a new #voxerbookchat on Quiet Leadership with some local admin peeps.
  • Spent an amazing day with our District Leadership Team running the #petk12 Amazing Race (Go Orange!)… what a great event!
  • Removed everything from the staff room walls…. time for an update! [a post just about this project is coming soon]
  • Attacked a list of boring to-do’s for the 14-15 school year.

What is the explanation here?  For me, it’s a free mind.  No matter how you slice it, being an educator is a 24/7 proposition.  I’m an elementary principal with two school aged kids, living in the town where I work.  24/7 is my school life.  But truly it’s just plain ole’ life.  I’m very accustomed to the shifts I make through the day.  I don’t ‘switch hats’ anymore.  I am all the time Josh and Jacob’s mom, Grant’s Principal and neighbor, friend, colleague, etc.  I just let it all blend and roll with it.

What does shift in this 24/7 scenario is the mental demand.  My mind is now free because I don’t have a calendar driving my days, there isn’t a stack of unfinished work sitting on my desk, because almost all the boys’ sports involvement has taken a break for summer, because evening school obligations are gone.  My free mind can read a book efficiently.  My free mind can enjoy amazing speakers without being pulled in forty different directions.  My free mind can enjoy #edcamp without having to rush off to a meeting right afterward.  My free mind can decide it’s time to tackle the staff room walls and my open work days can make it happen.

Summer learning.  It’s amazing.

Does all this mean I don’t learn during the working school year?  Nope.  I learn more and more each day.  Things I never thought I’d need to know.  But the learning of the school year is situation-driven, timeline oriented, or in a more primal frame, fight-or-flight, sink-or-swim learning.  I read a lot during the school year in order to prepare for a meeting or PD, to support a teacher, to share a great book with students.  I attend trainings to learn more about leadership, acquire new skills and support teachers.

It’s just so very different from now.

I was asked on the last day of school, “Doesn’t it just make you sad to say good-bye to all your students?”

Not at all.  The beauty of our job is the renewal aspect.  I’m not saying good-bye.  I’m saying ‘See you in August,’ ‘See you around town,’ ‘See you when you come back for a visit.’  Not good-bye.  And this brief time off, renews us, slows us down, reconnects us to our love of the work.

And all the chatter about summer learning is exciting, overwhelming and exciting.  My book list is a mile long.  I’ve added way too many blogs to Feedly to ever read.  I’ve committed to a few summer ‘Challenges’ and hope to follow through.  My conference calendar is about maxed out.

Sounds about right to me.