It’s been awhile since my last post! I’m alive and well! I am transitioning into my new position as an Assistant Principal at a new school site.
It’s been a crazy transition! (In a great way!) I’ve been at two new sites within the last three years, so learning names, school culture, day to day functions, and new responsibilities has been quite an adventure.
Part of the crazy transition has been trying to streamline my workflow. Based on my responsibilities that I am in charge of, I have to frequently access documents/files in my Google Drive regularly. A simple tool that I use on a daily basis, is my Fun List.
My Fun List mimics Google Keep (see my previous blog post), however, it is more user friendly in housing hyperlinks to sites. I wanted it to have the feel of virtual post-its. By using the “table” features and hiding lines, I was able to create the desired goal! Here is a snapshot of what my Fun List looks like:
Due to sensitivity to some personal information, I did not share my exact copy of my Fun List. However, I have provided a template below:
The theme for the Model Schools Conference was ACT FOR IMPACT. As I sat there listening to keynotes and sitting in sessions I was overwhelmed with the prominent thought of, “am I still impacting my babies?”
When I was a teacher I could easily see the impact I had on my babies. In my role as an administrator, I don’t feel or see the impact I’m making. Many of the conversations I had over the last few months, have been centralized around this specific topic. People have been asking if I am ready to move on to my new role. My reply is immediately, yes, however often include that I felt like I was unable to impact my site in ways I feel like I have made a difference.
I sat in the last keynote, Be The Best You Can Be by Simon Sinek. And whoa, was my mind blown. His keynote focused on 5 characteristics/components that leaders should have as they ACT FOR IMPACT and lead students. Prior to listing the 5, he stated that in order to lead, we as individuals must be the best version of ourselves and specifically pointing out that our job is not about competition or the end game. He then began to distinguish that people can fall under two categories when it comes to their viewpoint of their impact: finite or infinite.
He described finite people as people who find their sense of worth and value in self gratification. They want to be the best and receive all the accolades for themselves. They are looking out for themselves, as opposed to the team they are part of.
He then described infinite people as people who find their sense of worth and value in contributing their efforts for the greater good. They don’t seek immediate gratification, but rather look at the bigger picture. Their small efforts and contributions, allow for the group to succeed and in turn directly impact everyone involved.
In order for leaders to succeed, Sinek stated that leaders must have the following components:
1. Just cause.
In order to have success, there must be a just cause. We have to have a reason…you can call this the “why”. What’s the reason behind it? Why are we doing it? When that is established our desire to work towards this “just cause” requires our utmost sacrifice. That sacrifice must supercede your own interest. It’s not about winning and there is no such thing as best. It makes your work feel worth it.
2. Trusting Teams.
Simon posed the following questions: Do you love your job? Do you feel like you can be yourself based on the environment you get to work? How do we create an environment where people can work at their natural best? When we don’t have that, we have people who are lying, hiding and faking. How are we treating our staff? Our number one goal is to allow people to work at their natural best. They don’t have to put on a show. They get to come to a place that allows them to be themselves. They feel safe to take risks and to try new things. They feel like they are supported and can grow.
3. Worthy rival.
What is a worthy rival? Another player in the game that show us our weaknesses or areas of growth. When you are comparing yourself to other people, it doesn’t tell you about them, it’s about you and what you need to reflect on. Instead of being angry at them, go in with the approach of, what are they teaching me? How can I be grateful for them? They help make us better, without them we would not be able to grow into a better leader. Remember our only true competitor is yourself.
4. Flexible. Capacity for existential flexibility.
Do you have a just cause and trusting team? The willingness to walk away from something based on the just cause. Are you ready to blow it up if it doesn’t have a worthy just cause? What if your team is not trustworthy? Are you brave enough to blow it up or walk away?
5. Courage to lead.
It is so easy to play the finite game than the infinite game. But you have to adjust your mindset. Do you have the mentality of it’s just my job now, and it will be someone’s else’s problem in the future? We get one choice. Your choice should be, “I’m gonna be the best I can be and I’m gonna leave this place in a better way than I found it.” Most importantly the mindset should be when helping a just cause is, “I’m gonna help and build other people up”.
As I sit here reflecting on this powerful keynote. I was able to pick out parts of my life where I could see my “finite” mindset. Definitely not something to be proud of, but still true nonetheless. Thankfully, I have been blessed with some wonderful people. So many of them possess these 5 components and have taught me to think outside of myself and current moment. They have challenged me to look at the bigger picture.
So now I challenge you….
Do you have a “finite” or “infinite” mindset. Be honest.
Do you have your “just cause”? Is it clear for your team? Do others find it worthy?
Are you leading a team that is built on trust? Are they able to work at their natural capacity?
Do you have a worthy rival? Someone that is better than you? Someone that has characteristics you aspire to attribute?
Do you have a flexible mindset? Are you willing to change things if they are not working?
Do you have the courage to lead? Do you have the right mindset?
How can you impact the team around you?
So how can I still impact my babies? I can continue to reflect upon my practice. I can reassess where I’m at and continue to work towards a better future for them. I know deep down they deserve it and so do the people I work for. Feeling or seeing the impact, doesn’t matter to me anymore. Doing the best job I can and being the best version of myself to those around me, is everything.
I urge that as you continue on this journey of “being the best you can be”, you continue to take time to reflect upon where you are. There may come a time where you may need to reassess the “just cause”. There should not be an “end game” spot on the radar, but merely continual reflection and growth.
I believe you can best the best version of yourself. You’ve got what it takes. I cannot wait to see it.
So it’s March and I’m barely coming up with my theme for the year. Many educators around the world come up a word that they are focusing on for the year. Unlike them, my year didn’t start off with this huge epiphany. Through conversations and interactions with my colleagues, friends and family….I was able to fully grasp my goal for the year, SERVICE.
From an educator viewpoint, one would think that I would serve my teachers and students all year round. Yes that is true, but it’s a little more in depth than that. I have been a huge advocate for helping students and teachers to be successful in the 21st century by utilizing technology.
So I decided to embark on a journey. I decided to cultivate a training for my classified staff called: Become a GooRu. What it consists of, is a program designed to teach them on how to use G Suite Apps for Education. I love teaching people how simple technology can make their lives. In doing this, I want to teach the classified staff the basics to help make their daily tasks easier. From just introducing this training it spiraled into training other administrators and hopefully into training students on a grander scale.
I wrote in a blog about 8 months ago that I wanted to get back to my passion. The passion of spreading technology. So here I am ready for the journey ahead.
The other main aspect of my life, my Health & Wellness Coaching side. This is actually a newer venture. One that I started because I knew I was not balancing my work-life situation. I was 90% work and 10% life. Let’s be honest, I was faking it while making it. I was achieving goals, hitting deadlines, but was getting so discouraged with how I felt physically and it was taking an emotional toll on me.
So I decided that I would sign up as a coach, to not only get a discount, but had the ability to later help serve others. Fast forward 8 months and I’m able to help 4 other women. I was able to give them the tools I’ve used to help me drop 25lbs, 2 pant sizes and give them tools for a healthier life. Serving them has been great, it’s given me a different purpose that I am passionate about. Allowing people to know their worth and strive to be the best they can be, daily.
Im looking forward to the rest of 2019 and seeing how God is going to use me in both of these roles.
As many in the education world are either approaching Spring Break or have had it…I ask you to make sure you take the time to reflect on the past three months and set goals for the rest of the year.
As I started this blog, I tried to think of one word to describe my year, it all came down to the word: growing. This last year has been a whirlwind to say the least. The eagerness of starting the job and all that it entailed, was so exciting during the first month. I do not think I actually remember my first month, except for sitting in the AP or Principal’s office asking a zillion questions. Through their graciousness and help from my wonderful secretaries, the first month was complete.
Then reality struck….literally.
October 1st, changed everything. That weekend I was out with one of my best friends and her family enjoying the Route 91 concert. We were singing to Jason Aldean…then bullets came flying overhead. As my best friend and I were seeking shelter, I was hit by ricochet from a bullet. At that point, I checked my emotions and new it was time to either stay and die from the bullets that were flying around me or time to find shelter. As my best friend and I hid in a storage container I could hear the devastation that was happening outside. We then began to find a place to lay while we waited for our fate. I was stunned and couldn’t function much, as I was standing there a girl begged for me to lay down because gunfire was piercing through the storage container. Seconds after I laid down, a bullet flew overhead in the direct location where I was standing bursting through cans of beer. There I was, laying soaked full of beer. I made the conscious decision to call my mom, no answer. I then decided it would be in my best interest to call the cops and let them know of the situation. After that, I tried my mom again. She answered. I told her I loved her. Making that contact with her was everything to me. After that, I was at peace. Whatever God had in mind, I was ready.
God had different plans for me in that storage container. He allowed me to trust Him 100% with my life. (Don’t get me wrong I still struggle) The gunfire ceased. My best friend and I didn’t know if it was over or if it was a trick. Either way, we knew we needed to leave. After running by wounded victims, we ran for safety. As we ran, we ran into her dad and a random guy who came to look for us. The rest of the night was a blur as well as the next three months.
I don’t really remember the first semester and my job. I tried so desperately to get back to my life in blogging and technology. It was a struggle. I had to call and cancel speaking engagements (sorry CUE!). I completed my daily tasks, went through the motions, but part of me was missing.
It wasn’t until Christmas break, that I snapped out of it.
The way I looked at life, was completely different. I am so thankful for the job that I have. I am blessed to work with students on a daily basis and hopefully instill love, care, concern and build a positive rapport. Dealing with middle school students can be challenging, but I sincerely love this age because they are being molded into who they are going to be in the future. They are generally curious and fascinated with learning and experiencing a new world outside of elementary school. I hope that as I continue in my position, I will get to encourage and motivate future students to find their inner worth and see how they can impact the world.
I don’t know why the gunman did what he did. All I know, is that I am put in a position to help cultivate young leaders and allow them to see that they matter. What they do with their life and how they treat people is going to be how people remember them. I want them to know that they matter and their actions greatly influence others around them.
As I reflect on second semester, I find that I built great relationships with staff, got my feet wet in various avenues, but most importantly I grew leaps and bounds in regards to my emotions. I tend to be the person who wears their emotions on their sleeve. Now this can be a good thing, but can also be bad given the location and audience. This job has stretched me in keeping my “poker face” if you will. I can only count on 1 hand where I had an emotional breakdown this year (yay!). This is huge! With this new job comes so much responsibility, but also the ability to be a strong leader. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think expressing your emotions (crying etc.) is bad, but for me not breaking down is the best way I can do my job. I owe a lot of my growth to my parents and family, but significantly to my Principal and Assistant Principal. Their support, encouragement and advice throughout the year allowed me to grow the way I have.
As I look forward to next year, I have set forth 5 goals for myself:
Go back to my passion: Educating staff and students in technology.
This is high on priority list. Teaching staff and students tech has been my life for the past five years. When it abruptly stopped, I lost a sense of who I am as and Educator. Bringing this back into my wheelhouse will help me stay grounded as an Educator and to never lose sight as an administrator.
Develop a program to help support up and coming Educators
I want to build up future teachers. I hate hearing about teachers leaving the field of Education because they “didn’t know what to expect” or the fact that they didn’t have a solid foundation before entering. I want cultivate their passion for teaching at a young age and help pave a way for their future.
Sign up to present at least 1 conference
I have presented at CADA, CUE Rockstar and EdTech in years past. Due to my life changing experience as I previously mentioned this has gone on hiatus. I want to get back out there and continue to share my passion and excitement for education.
Support 5 “discipline” students by doing weekly, monthly check-ins.
Building rapport with students is one of the most important aspects any Educator can do to help support a positive environment. This by far is one of the greatest joys I have in engaging with students. I want to help support them to gain a healthy perspective of who they are and how they can be world changers.
Prying myself away from endless paperwork is tough. I want teachers to know I care about what they are doing in the classroom, because I do! I want to make it a strong point that I increase the amount of classroom visits I do daily/weekly/monthly! I care and genuinely want to see the crafted and unique lesson plans that teachers spend hours working on.
It has been about two weeks since I was named Vice Principal. I really have not been able to fully wrap my head around the news.
The realization has not felt real yet due to the fact that I was in limbo of starting my administrative job. I started this school year as a teacher. Being able to welcome over 150 bright shiny faces was such a unique experience. Starting a new school year with students, and knowing I wouldn’t stay the full year, was very hard for me. I enjoy building relationships with my students every year. However, due to the circumstances of this year, I knew I had to view these connections differently. Luckily, my replacement came within the beginning of the second week. It was hard for me to say goodbye to my students, but I knew I was leaving them in great hands.
Leaving my job on the last day was extremely hard. I was fortunate enough to open up the school as well as work to help create a powerful culture on campus. My role at this site consisted of various duties. To no longer have those roles, was hard to wrap my head around. (I’m not going to lie, having more time to think and enjoy life has been nice, but I felt like I lost a part of who I am.) After getting over that realization, I had to say goodbye to the wonderful office staff I had worked with over the past 8 years (some even longer). Driving to the gym that day, was full of tears, hope and excitement.
Walking into my job on day one, felt like an out of body experience. My new secretary and another secretary that works within my area, surprised me and decorated my office. They made me a huge welcome sign, blew up tons of balloons, as well as made me a super yummy pie. I was so shocked. Their thoughtfulness and sincerity was extremely touching. Day 1 was full of planning, understanding my role, meeting new staff and students, and job shadowing. Needless to say, it was overwhelming.
My first week was a lot of getting my feet wet and understanding that my role as an educator is vastly different. Although I am a teacher at my core, my day to day schedule no longer set by class period bells. Often, I am working on two things at once, juggling new issues, and never fully knowing what time it is. I know that this new role is going to stretch me more than I have ever been before. With that being said, I am thankful that God has placed me where I am at, doing what I am doing.
The vision/purpose of the school site and leadership team, is uniquely refreshing. Being able to enter into a schools’ whose vision aligns with mine, is truly remarkable. I cannot wait to add to it in any way I can, as well as learn as much as I can.
As I look forward to the future, I see a year full of new experiences, new relationships, new lessons about life, new roles, and pretty much anything else my new chapter has in store.