Change. You know it’s inevitable. You know it’s good for you. You know it’s going to be a challenge. But because change is unpredictable and surprising, organic and fluid, you can’t possibly anticipate its grip. You may visualize scenarios in an attempt to prepare yourself for change, but ultimately, it’s not until you are in the midst of it, that you can gauge its visceral impact. I feel that I have barely been hanging on for the ride.
Having launched this school year as a vice principal with teaching responsibilities, I could not have accurately predicted how my first month might play out. I’ve been off the twitter grid, I’ve had little contact with friends and colleagues. So in my first attempt to come up for air, I thought I might share just some reflections around the changes I’m experiencing in this new role.
1. I am on the run more.
The day lasts 5 seconds. Which is why you haven’t had lunch. Yet. Ever. I know you’re thinking….everyone has 24 hours in their day. But no. They don’t. Someone stole the hours of my day between 9 and 4.
… except the time warp. That’s the time when I face the reality of some students who may be having a hard time in my class. Then, time stands still while you gauge the best response that will engage yet curb the current reality. Teaching is problem solving, tweaking and experimenting.
2. I laugh more.
From the unbelievable things students say to the equally surprising things they do, you can’t predict how the next day will go. I’ve learned when you ask, ‘Tell me more about that,’ they will. A LOT more. As a result, there are way more stories at the supper table! I dare anyone, including my husband, to ask, ‘how was your day?’ As my colleague Rose Walton has said, you can’t make this up!
3. I rely on others more.
The impact of a powerful and patient administrative partner cannot be overstated. He could most definitely run the show without me. His mantra is ‘The best way to learn is to do it.’ In addition to all of his own responsibilities, he shares all my responsibilities from discipline, to professional learning to yard duties. Perhaps more importantly, he shares laughter. And when my cup overflows, he grabs the paper towels, hides the spill and carries on in stride.
4. I empathize more.
Teachers and support staff face immense pressure daily. Students keep showing up everyday! Ready or not, they will be there. As a teacher, it’s challenging to keep up the energy and attention to intentional planning. As a vp, you will always be ‘interrupted’ but maybe it’s not an interruption. Maybe it’s a reminder that you are the ‘human’ touchdown station. That’s why you’re there. I even took to carrying a post it note pad the first 2 weeks just so I wouldn’t forget my hallway interactions.
5. I value more.
Being a VP with teaching responsibilities means you have MANY classes. Your staff is your class, but so are all 5 other classes you teach. I’m still learning names of students and parents. And I consider it a personal challenge and privilege to learn them. It’s just a first step to building relationships and making connections with kids and parents. I value that potential. Likewise, I have surprising opportunities to build relationships with staff. As a literacy learning coordinator, I may not have realized the gift I was given to share professional learning time with educators. When you are in a school and someone asks, can you help me with my practice? (Catch in throat) Why yes I can!
1 month in…
Would I do it again?
In a heartbeat.
Because I’m not very good at it. Yet.
Because I want to get better at it. Soon.
It’s a challenge. How can I reach that kid? That teacher? That parent?
Anything new is a steep learning curve. I anticipated that. Perhaps I wasn’t ready for the time it takes to become excellent and effective. Maybe I’d forgotten what it feels like to be new and not great at something. Humbling.
But tomorrow…I get another chance.