I was in the midst of writing my last blog post, when I received an email that my previous vice principal, Kristi, just published a new post. I had to read it, and now I’m inspired to publish my list of the five things I know for sure: my tidbits of wisdom learned so far this year.
1) Change is good, but it can be hard. After making a big change, you need to give yourself some time to become accustomed to your new environment. I knew that changing schools and grades were good changes for me, but at the beginning of the year, there was a lot of “new.” I needed time to adjust to the new.
2) We all need “critical friends.” Sometimes these critical friends can be grade team partners or colleagues at our school. Sometimes they can be colleagues from previous schools. Sometimes they can be members of our Twitter PLN. Sometimes they can be past or present administrators. And sometimes they can be any combination of the above. These critical friends aren’t there to evaluate us, but to ask those great questions that help us make positive changes — both for ourselves and for our students.
3) Sometimes we need to be willing to modify our views when students aren’t meeting with success. This was a hard one for me. I knew what I wanted our classroom to look like, but the open-ended, play-based learning approach didn’t initially work for my students. I needed to make some changes to help students meet with success. This was a good reminder for me that ultimately, students need to come first.
4) We need to listen before we talk. I also struggle with this one. While I’d probably say that I’m an introvert, I do like to talk, and I often have ideas to share. I’ve found though that sharing first, sometimes causes other people to be more reluctant to share … especially if their views are contrary to what I might believe. Careful listening though gives me a chance to gain more insight into other people and their beliefs, and time to formulate what I might want to contribute and how I want to contribute it.
5) Always find a way to enjoy your day. Yes, I have bad days. I have days when things don’t go as planned, or when I question if my approach works. I have days when I wonder if there’s more that I can do. I have days when I feel sad. But on these days, I try to find something to enjoy. Maybe it’s a funny story told by a student. Maybe it’s a good conversation with a colleague. Maybe it’s taking just an extra minute to laugh at my parking anecdotes. Whatever it is, I do what my previous principal, Paul, encouraged, and I find the positives, because even in a small way, doing so usually helps turn the day around.
What are the five things you know for sure? I thank Kristi for inspiring me to share my own, and I hope that everyone — parents, educators, administrators, and support staff — do the same. I’d love to know what you’ve learned so far this year!