This past semester was a whirlwind, returning from maternity leave and starting a new job as elementary assistant principal. Over the course of the semester I kept a document where I wrote little notes to myself about learnings`. Since I finally have time to write them out I thought I’d use my COETAIL site as the place to house my thoughts.
I have so much more to learn, but here are TOP 10:
1. Relationships: Spend time to build relationships with your staff, parents, and most importantly the students. Having a trusting relationship makes things easier down the road.
2. Feedback: Teachers crave this, not just a “good job”, but specific timely feedback. This is something I can improve on, I get into classrooms but feedback isn’t always right away. I think I will start carrying a post-it pad around so I can write feedback and leave it for them right away.
3. Communicate Cleary (and Concisely): I made the mistake of assuming people understood things from previous meetings and/or discussions so in my emails I just referred to them, rather than explaining the why and specific how.
4. Be Fair: This is for discipline issues mainly, but could apply to working with my teachers too. What is fair for one person may not be fair for another. Again, by knowing your staff and students this becomes easier to figure out what is fair for each student/teacher and what’s not.
5. Empathize: Everyone is coming from a different place, don’t expect everyone to be on the same level. Understand that people are trying their hardest and meet them where they are with understanding.
6. Be Flexible, but consistent: Things come up. People forget. Emails get lost. Be flexible, but not a wet noodle. People need to know that there are expectations and consequences, but don’t take out the human aspect. I think this ties into number 5.
7. Lead by Example: Work alongside teachers, with parents and students. People will watch your actions more than they listen to your words. Of course we have all heard this, but I found this to be so true.
8. Follow Through: Easier said than done. I never knew how crazy an administrator’s schedule was. I will come into work with an idea of how they day will go and things will always come up. I have to make it a point to prioritize and make sure I get to the things I promised. Also, this goes along with #6–it’s okay to shift your schedule around and push things back (hard for my Type A personality, but I’m learning!)
9. Take the Blame, Share the Success: Even if it isn’t your fault, take the blame. It goes a long way, same goes for complimenting others and giving them credit for their roles.
Lastly, and most important…
10. Don’t Forget the WHY: It is easy to get caught up in the logistics, planning, communication, discipline, emails, professional development, assessment, program coordination, and more–I don’t want to forget why I started teaching…to impact students. I started writing past and current students’ names in my planner and it is a little trigger for my brain to remember it all goes back to the students.