Tag Archive | #principallife

Feathery thing

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“Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul…” Emily Dickinson

I am blessed that I consistently receive reminders of  why I work in schools. Motivating young people is what I love the most about my work. I love school(I always have.) I love literature(I always have.)  The best part of my job is giving young people hope.

During Lent, I realized one of my students is an aspiring author. I thought it was important to let the student  know that the principal is an author too. The student was in need of motivation. To see a face light up? Que bonito! It was wonderful. When I saw the student again later in the day, I encouraged continued self-expression and to consider creating a blog. I talked about my favorite bloggers turned bestsellers, Luvvie Ajayi and Ta-Nehisi Coates. The student didn’t know who they were and was impressed by their successes. It was important for me to stop being the stuffy principal and share something about myself. I also offered to be available to discuss writing.

I’m working closely with a group of students who are disengaged and disconnected from school. Their attendance is poor. They are not in good standing but they all want to work part-time. I know that the rules about good standing. I’m a rule follower and a rule enforcer. I’m a principal. Rules are important. A few of my staff members are much more black and white about this issue;a few have even voiced criticism of my willingness to be flexible.  But I want to get these kids back in school. Internal motivation is the ideal. I will promote extrinsic rewards if it’s going to motivate kids to come back to school. I cannot withhold encouragement and hope. I could have easily said,“ you guys cut too much school“ and sent them away. My non-negotiables are fighting, defiance, and drug abuse. If a student promises to return to school if I help him or her find a job, how can I say no? What kind of teacher and leader shuts the door on students?  

Part of what I do is give hope. That is at the core of the work that I do. I give these young people opportunities following the example of my own stellar teachers and administrators. I wasn’t born a principal or a teacher.  Shoot I wasn’t even born an English speaker. It’s my turn now to be not only an adult or authority figure but a human being who wants young people to be successful . In the words of the inspiring Harvey Milk, “you have to give them hope.”  

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Blue Monday

bluemondayThose who came before me lived through their vocations

From the past until completion, they’ll turn away no more

And still I find it so hard to say what I need to say

But I’m quite sure that you’ll tell me just how I should feel today, “Blue Monday,” New Order

I had a rough day at work earlier this week.  It was overwhelming. It wasn’t so much the written work that I was having to do because I finished a huge project on Friday. It wasn’t decision-making because yesterday’s events didn’t require anything too difficult. I was short-staffed, down three key employees. It was the  level of need that I sensed or that was needed by parents and students. Credential programs never teach you about self-care, how to strike a healthy work-life balance, and how to handle the emotions that arise when families are sharing their needs and problems with you. Those lessons you learn from experiences or if you’re lucky, good mentors.

I have made a career out of being patient and professional no matter what challenges I’m facing. This has been especially true as an administrator. As a teacher, I often wore my heart on my sleeve.I can’t justify everything I did because it was often dependent on my mood; there were times I was self-involved and less focused on best serving my students and their families. As an administrator I have learned to be more thoughtful about my decisions and actions. The criticisms I received as a teacher,  specifically about my inability to hide how I really feel, were helpful as I transitioned into greater leadership roles. However, it has been inwardly challenging to be calm in many of the situations that I face. Embodying grace under pressure often means internalized pressure. So I broke down once I got home. Rambo and M comforted me with reassurance of their support and love.

I did make it to the gym that night. I had been tearful. By the time I walked into the gym I had pulled myself together. My coach gave us quite the workout. It was physically grueling. It was exactly what I needed to remind myself what I am capable of doing. When things get rough, I can push through them.  What is important is to keep moving and to breathe. As I do with most of my workouts, I lift all those weights in my life and from work. I crunch, step, swing, and power through each set. Though I am nowhere near my previous levels of strength and fitness, I got through the evening and felt better for it.

I told Rambo I wanted to quit my job. I have to take it one day at a time. I will rely on what won’t fail me. I am blessed to have my health, my commitment to myself, and the love of my family. As my running coach once told me, tough times don’t last but tough people do.

Greener grass

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I started my new job approximately a month ago. I am energized, excited, happy, and hopeful. These are positive feelings which bode well for my new start.   This is my 22nd year in secondary education.   It is my first year as principal.    During the summer, my friend, fitness and leadership guru @dymeetworld (find her on Instagram!) posted that “the grass is greener under me.” I really liked that post and idea. So often, when we change jobs, end relationships or move locations, we do so out of the feeling that the grass will be greener in a different situation. The grass can be green, yellow, or non-existent, no matter where you go.

My mindset is what I bring to every experience I have. I go into a new situation with an open mind and hopeful heart. To be happy is an action, not a feeling. It’s not about feeling bitterness and resentment about the past; it’s about challenging me to take new opportunities. I consistently aim to be my best self.  The grass is always going to be greener because I’m always looking for the best in even the darkest situation. I feel lighter. I feel free. I feel younger.  My last experience prepared me well for the job I now hold. No hay mal que por bien no venga. All experiences are for my growth and progress. Change moves me forward.  The grass is green underneath me.

*Thanks, dear friend, for sharing your positivity and wisdom with us. You will continue to inspire me in this new phase of my career.

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