Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him. ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
This week is the final week of our first quarter of the school year. It also marks the culmination of my first nine weeks as a new Principal. This weekend, I spent some time thinking about what went well, what didn’t and what I will focus on improving during the second quarter. Putting this in writing serves several purposes: (1) reflection on what has been accomplished and what needs improvement (2) allows for the organization of my thoughts and (3) provides the potential for feedback from my Professional Learning Network.
- Setting the Tone – our staff spent time at the beginning of the year discussing a different mindset for the school year (Learning and Leading with Pride), talking about deliberate practice, establishing a vision and translating that into a mantra.
- Visibility – getting into classroom has been a focus this semester and I have spent a lot of time observing (and interacting) with our teachers and students.
- Modeling Technology Use – Google Docs for meeting agendas and data collection forms, presentations utilizing Prezi, blogging, and Twitter. I have worked very hard to employ and model how available technologies can be used to enhance classroom instruction.
- Maintaining Focus – I have been challenged by the number of directions I have been pulled this quarter. As a Dean of Students and Assistant Principal, I had become accustomed to distractions and “putting out fires,” but I was not prepared for just how frequently my plans for the day have become knocked off kilter, for a wide variety of reasons.
- Providing Support – to be honest, I have had to work really hard to adjust to the challenges of the Principal’s position (like a duck…calm on the surface, but paddling like mad beneath the water) and I have not provided the level of support needed by some of our teachers.
- Balance – finding time to address administrative responsibilities, visit classrooms, blog, keep up with my PLN, pursue personal interests and spend time with family has been a struggle.
What I’ll Improve (at least some goals for next quarter)
- Providing Feedback – while my visibility in classrooms has been good, I need to improve upon the feedback I provide to teachers. It needs to be more focused, more meaningful and more helpful. In some cases, I need to “go to the hard places,” providing honest feedback, even when I know it may not be immediately well received.
- Distributing Leadership – I am blessed to have a very capable staff, with many teachers who will “step-up” and assume leadership roles on our campus. In order to be effective and maintain my focus, I need to let go (or at least loosen my grip) on projects and involve more of my staff.
- Expressing Appreciation – we work in a “people” business and an important part of that is providing recognition and appreciation to those with whom we work – staff and students. Next quarter, I will do a better job of seeing, and sharing, the great things that are happening at our school.
- Deliberate Decision-Making – next quarter, I will be more mindful of my decision-making process, being sure that I am focused on what matters. What is the purpose? Is it a good use of time/resources? Does it serve the best interest of students?
For me, this post represents the beginning of time dedicated to reflecting on this past quarter and outlining plans for personal and organizational improvement. As previously mentioned, one reason for blogging is to learn from others. After reading this post, if you have advice, suggestions, reading, and or resources that you think would benefit my pursuit of professional effectiveness and excellence, I hope you will share.