An attempt at reflection (part 1)

May 11th already.

I’ve heard “the 90 days of May” and other teacher-isms about the final weeks of school.  I feel like May is flying by, my sense of time is warped and I feel like I look at my calendar every 10 minutes for a reality check.  Probably not just a feeling.

To center myself, gather up a few minutes to keep the time from swirling wildly around me, I’ll take a stab at a reflection on the year.  It’s overdue.  It’s been a year of huge growth for me.  Exciting and scary.

FullSizeRender (5)I’m a Viking!  In August I wouldn’t have said that with any conviction.  I was a lost puppy trying to lead a school, learn kids’ names, start the year strong.  School is school, you’d think.  But you’d really only think that if you didn’t work in education.  School’s have their own flavor, pulse, attitude.  Not to mention where we keep supplies, how the alarm works, and when recess happens.  So many layers.  And the people.  The most important part.  Staff, teachers, parents, kids.  So many new layers of people.  And they watched me.  Closely.  Who is this new person?  What’s her plan?  Does she like me?

Consistent communication

I stuck to my tried and true systems of communication.  Weekly bulletin, Wednesday agenda (whether there’s a meeting or not) and as few emails to staff as possible.  Face to face is the first option.  To build confidence after a major change, people need to know where to find information, consistently.  Both of the above mention docs are one humongous google doc.  So it’s one stop shopping for all information.

My way of communicating… no gotchas, no secrets, finding a balance between too much and not enough information.  Tone, set up of the space, wait time, encouragement, listening and sharing… such an art.  I strive to be the leader I needed as a teacher.

Available, visible, approachable

“Open door policy” doesn’t have anything to do with the position of your office door.  I read that on Twitter recently (sorry, no attribution).  It’s an attitude.  “Do you have a minute?” or “Sorry to bother you” are phrases that I dislike.  I always have a minute and people are never bothering me.  It’s my job.  People are the most important thing on a school campus.  It’s what I do.  Parent concerns, student learning, teacher needs, support staff questions… I always have a minute and no, you’re never a bother.  What can I do for you?

Painted in Waterlogue

Being around campus, in classrooms, at recess, at drop off & breakfast… it’s important to be seen and available.  And by being out and about so much, my new Viking family can get to know me, how I operate, what I value.  And I hope through these interactions, they know I care about my new school, I’m invested and ready to work along side them.

Not without Challenges

The adjustment has been tough.  I already see this year as such an opportunity that I wasn’t even aware of as I moved through it.  Luckily there are people above me who knew this was the nudge I needed.  A nudge out of the nest that was my former school.

Emotionally taxing, physically demanding and intellectually challenging.  How could you not grow from all that?  My work/life balance is better (weekend beach walks, blog posts that sit in drafts, time with my family).  Humor often saves the day.  If you can’t laugh at the crazy pace of an elementary school, you need to find a new line of work.  Exercise still eludes me.  It’s now a summer goal with the idea that whatever I start could be maintained during school.  And I rest my mind more.  I joke that my work is also my hobby.  True statement.  But it’s intellectually taxing to read about leadership and live leadership, to read blogs about education and live education.  So now I’ve developed other reading lists, started playing Clash of Clans (nothing like a video game to tune things out) and set a time when work email is off limits.  Give my busy mind a break.

Challenges as opportunities for growth.  I’m in.  And once summer rolls around, I’ll be ready to tackle What I would have done differently.  And Plans for next year.  For now, time to step away.  Hit publish and the hang with the fam.




Loving the first week of school! #VVVikings

Time flies.

Where did the first week go?  New names, lots of hugs and smiles and so much to learn about my new school.  Each day just flies by!  I try to eek out as much learning as possible.  What are our systems?  What’s that boy’s name again?  Hi, I’m the new principal.  Great to meet you!  Observing awesome classrooms and teachers that love their work.  Answering emails and sorting schedules.  It’s a whirlwind.

A solid smile.

You just can’t help but smile!  After umpteen introductions and new faces and names, I’m still smiling.  There’s something about the start of school that’s exciting, anticipatory and happy.  And what happens when you smile?  Kids smile back and parents feel comfortable with a new face and everyone relaxes just a smidge.  Yes, my cheek muscles are dying but how can you not smile?!?!  School rocks!

Crazy tired.

Have you ever felt so tired?  And so full of the goodness of your work?  It’s great.  Legitimately tired from hard, good, right work for kids.  And then up at 5 to do it all over again.  Yah!!

A to-do list that’s four feet long.

Oh my gosh.  Yikes.  Duck and cover!  To-do lists are mandatory.  Prioritize, act, revamp.  Because one day’s priority is not tomorrow’s priority.  It’s a juggle.  And rarely does an item need attention RIGHT THIS SECOND.  Most things can sit for a few hours (or a day) while kids come first.  Worth repeating: The to-do list never trumps kids.

Weekends and family make all the difference.

As much as I love my work, a break from school is required.  Baseball games, grocery shopping, movies together and soccer practice keep me sane.  Sad to say, it’s true.  Science homework, band notes to sign, mom taxi duties and dinner out help me keep balance and sanity so that I don’t turn into a workaholic.  Who wants that?!? Not my family.  And yes, as we go about our family time, I’m occasionally Mrs. Haugen around town but they roll with it.  They get it.

Bottom line?

School rocks.  I aspire to balance.  Smiles are the best.  Enjoy every minute.  Get a good night sleep.