Lisa Sullivan always tells me “You have to slow down to go fast”. I think that as we move into the month of May, these words are very need to play over and over again in our heads. It’s easy for us to assume that because we have been in school for 150ish days that our kids will behave appropriately, follow routines and procedures and act above the line without reminder. But, I’m sure you all notice that often times, the month of May brings discipline issues and a lot of stress and frustration for teachers. So, I am asking you to “slow down”! Slow down and review routines and procedures. Try hard to keep your schedule as consistent as possible. Take time to praise and positively reinforce the students who are doing what they are supposed to do! As my friend Sharon Esswein says, “Celebrate what you want to see more of!” We can do this! We CAN make it to the finish line. But, in order to get there in one piece we will need to “slow down to go fast”!
Here is the staff update for April 27th!
This evening, I found myself scrolling through my past blog posts. As I read the titles and skimmed the posts, I found myself being taken back to exactly how I felt and what I was focusing on at that specific point in time.
I have written a lot of blog posts! One every week for the past two years, in fact, without missing a school week! In order to do this I've disciplined myself to think about events that occur in my life that teach me lessons or make me think. I keep notes in my phone about blog ideas and often compose the entire post in my head throughout the week. As I looked at my notes for this week I noticed that they were all about leadership-reflections on my own leadership; questions I've asked myself about whether propelling all of you into a state of panic about making changes was a terrible idea (totally not my intention at all by the way---I get excited by change and I am realizing that it causes others to stress out! I'm sorry); thoughts about how to grow new leaders; and even more questions about my own leadership.
As I continued to scroll through my old posts, I decided to look back at my posts from this time last year. I was very surprised by what I found! Last year, on April 20th, 2017, I wrote a blog called Leadership Lessons in which I shared what I'd learned in my journey as a leader. This made me pause for a few seconds as I stared to think about this time of year. This is the time of year that my leadership is most important. Our patience is wearing thin, we're stressed, we're tired, our kids are antsy, our parents are antsy, there is unknown change coming our way, we have testing, we're planning field trips and art shows and graduation ceremonies and field day and so much more... My leadership is crucial right now which must be why I reflect on it so deeply this time of year. The great thing about finding this pattern in my writing is that I know this time of year will indeed come to an end. Things will settle down and if my blog post pattern continues, we should be moving towards celebration and excitement very soon!
I urge you to reread my post called Leadership Lessons, especially if you're hoping for a leadership role in years to come but also because you are all leaders in this building. And, I'd like to add a few more lesson in this 2nd Volume.
12. Leaders are humble-Leaders don't advertise how great they are. They don't boast about all the things they know. Leaders do the work and do so while remaining humble.
13. Leaders are patient (I need to work on this one)-Leaders know when to move quickly and know when to wait. Leaders understand that some people need time to process and others can make decisions quickly.
14. Leaders know their faults-Leaders are honest with themselves about who they are. Leaders are aware of their faults and work to build skill to become the best version of themselves.
15. Leaders seek out mentors who they can learn from-Leaders never stop learning. They search for those who inspire them and who are doing new and innovative things. Leaders are learners and seek out mentors.
16. Leaders ask questions-Leaders know what questions to ask to push the thinking of others. Leaders ask questions of themselves and reflect on their leadership.
17. Leaders don't take themselves too seriously-Leaders know how to have fun. They enjoy their time with the amazing people they work with every day.
What skills do you need to work on as a leader? What would you add to the list?
Here is your staff update for April 20th.
“When you’re through changing, you’re through.” –Neil Pasricha, The Happiness Equation
Currently I am reading The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha. I have read and reread the section called “When you’re through changing, you’re through”. This part of the book speaks to me and it causes me to reflect on all of the changes I’ve made throughout my career and how without those changes I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve reflected on how without those changes I wouldn’t have made the mistakes along the way that have taught me so much. And, how without those changes I wouldn’t have become the principal as J.W. Reason.
I’m not sure if you know this, but I didn’t want to be a principal. I didn’t apply for the job at J.W. I didn’t even have my principal license when I was hired to be the principal here. In fact, I didn’t interview for the job. I sat in Dale McVey’s office and told him all of the reasons why he was crazy to even consider me for such a position. Well, for those of you who know Dale, you know that he is not easily swayed. Dale’s mind was made up and I was going to become the principal a J.W. Reason without a license and with four little kids including 15 month old twins.
Six years as the principal of J.W. have flown by. I am forever grateful to Dale for being the catalyst for change for me. I often times find myself thinking about all of the learning I would have missed out on if Dale had listened to all of the reasons why I thought I wasn’t ready.
Now, you may be wondering why I’m telling you this story. It’s not because I’m leaving. Instead, I’m telling you this because I want you to know that it is time for many of you to change. There are many of you who have been in the same position for many, many years. And, you are REALLY great at what you do. But, “when you’re through changing, you’re through” and I know that you are not through learning. You are not finished taking risks, making mistakes and feeling uncomfortable. It is my job to keep us all fresh and to push us all to our edges. So, in the coming weeks I will be asking you to have conversations with me about what changes might stretch you and keep you growing. Will everyone move around to new positions and grade levels? NO! But, I am going to help a lot of you try something new.
If you have a desire to change grade levels or positions, please let me know. If you don’t want to, well, that’s okay but I want you to remember the story of my “principal interview” with Dale. Sometimes we all need a nudge.
Here is your staff update for April 13th!
Sometimes I catch myself being annoyed with the mundane parts of my life. Packing lunches, making dinner, doing laundry, checking email, doing lunch duty-I have caught myself thinking how tired I am of doing these things. Then it was like life gave me a wake up call while, for the past week, I have been in bed. Pneumonia was no joke and it left me shivering, coughing and wrapped up in blankets for nearly a week.
As I spent hours and days doing absolute nothing, I had plenty of time to think. What I realized was that I take the every day duties of life for granted. As I lay there in my bedroom I actually longed for the opportunity to go to the grocery store or even clean a bathroom! Being sick reminded me of how much I take for granted. It helped me refocus and remember what it really means to find JOY in the little things.
Tonight as I made dinner, for the first time in a long time, I actually enjoyed cooking for my family. I was even happy to clean up the dishes without feeling sick and achy.
Health is a gift. The duties of every day life are a gift. Remember to appreciate that you get to live your life each day and complete the little tasks that keep us moving through our days.
Here is your staff update for April 6th! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT'S APRIL 6th?!?!