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.

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Always Time for People.

Had a nice pre-evaluation meeting with a teacher this week who reminded that It’s All About Relationships.  She shared a recent field trip with her class during which she ran into three people with whom she’s developed a relationship in the course of this annual field trip.  It was good to see them, introduce them to her students, and reconnect.

I couldn’t agree more.  And my contribution to #YourEduStory for this week is just that: Relationships and People.  It’s one of my strengths as a principal.  Thanks @msvictoriaolson for the topic suggestion!

As much as being out at lunch with students is fruitful and fun, I need to balance my availability to staff.  Eating in the staff room, being available for private chats in my office and yes, going out to spend lunch with students… it’s all about time with people.  Building, nurturing and expanding relationships.

It’s enrollment and tour season.  When a new face comes into the office, I don’t hesitate to introduce myself, welcome them to our school, and answer any questions they might have.  It takes 5 minutes, but how welcoming is it to meet the principal of your student’s potential new school?  Very.  And I always try to flip things.  If I were standing in our office wondering if this was the right place for my child, wouldn’t I want to be greeted with a smile by the person in charge?

“What can I do for you today?” is one of my go-to greetings, in person and on the phone.  It’s a job of service so why not make myself available from the get-go?  Sometimes a teacher wants to share a classroom success.  Other times he or she might need a resource, a book, or link to help with a project.  And other times, nothing at all.

Our classified staff are hard to get in a room together.  Impossible actually.  So I try to find times in the day to check in.  Yesterday was a particularly sunny January day and two of our one-to-one inclusion aides were sitting at the picnic table watching their students doing PE with their class.  I joined them and we had a nice chat about the weather (wow!), their students and weekend plans.  Just a quick exchange and mutual appreciation for the sunshine, students growing in independence and TGIF sentiments.

“Can I show you this, Mrs. Haugen?”

“Of course.  I’d love to see it”

I’m never too busy for a request to share from a student.  My two minutes means the world to them.  And what could be better than a well written essay, the beginnings of a math problem, a painting or new jump rope trick?  That’s why I’m here.  That’s why I chose this role.

Victoria asked, “What is the best thing you do in your classroom/school/district/job?”

I make time for people.  And it’s my #oneword for 2015 too!