Instructional Leadership

It’s Been Awhile…Lessons Learned as a New Administrator

 

It has been awhile since I have blogged.  A long while.  So much has changed for me since I last blogged.  I could give the excuse that I have been busy with my family…which I have, but that is not it.  I could say it has been awhile because I switched careers and moved from consultant to vice principal at an inner city school, but that is not it.  I could say it is because I am back teaching grade two after four years out of the classroom, but that is not it.  I could say it is because I was finishing my master’s degree…which I did (yay!), but that is not it either.  I have not blogged because I could not get my thoughts together in a way that is coherent, organized and what I thought would be “blog worthy”.  So much has changed for me.  So much has been new and I honestly have been treading water, barely keeping my head afloat with so much change.  The learning curve has been straight up.

What’s different now, after 6 months in a school that brought me back to my blog?  I’m not sure to be honest but I can say that for the first time this weekend I had a moment to think, to feel centered, feel at peace with where I am, and in that moment it occurred to me that I am no longer treading…I am swimming! So in this moment of swimming I reflect on what I have learned during these last few months as I have transitioned from a consultant to a vice principal.

  1. There is absolutely a theory/ practice gap and this is NOT because teachers don’t want to implement the theory.  For me the gap exists in my practice when the needs of my students trump the theory I am trying to implement.  Every day I work and learn with children ages 4-13.  They are amazing individuals who are just that…individuals.  Each and every one of them comes to school each day with needs that they look to us to help them with and sometimes these needs are not the same as the lesson I have planned.  This does not mean that I don’t teach, in fact I do everyday.  What it does mean is that I sometimes have to change my plans to meet the needs of my students, and I don’t apologize for this.
  2. Learning in my classroom takes longer than I think it should and that is okay…in fact that should be celebrated!!   I spent 6 months coming to this important realization.  I felt defeated every time the lesson I planned took a week instead of a period.  My timing was off and I was down on myself for it. Prior to becoming a consultant I had great timing.  I could plan a lesson for a period and it would be completed within that period.  What was I doing wrong?  My ah ha moment came when I realized that I am a different teacher than I used to be.  I assess more in the moment than ever before and in those moments I make changes, shift ideas, and adapt to meet the needs of the students in front of me.  I embrace every teachable moment as it comes my way which means that I don’t always complete my lesson but I DO support my students reach the learning goals.  I am no longer driven by the lesson plan.  I am now driven by the needs of the students.  Instead of beating myself up for not achieving the plan I need to celebrate helping my students meet the goal.
  3.  Being a VP means I now have 153 kids.  I have always thought of the students in my class as my kids.  I spend my day with them, come to know them, and love them.  I laugh with them, cry with them, and learn with them.   My students consume my thoughts, keep me up at night, and always make me so proud.  What I have come to realize of myself as a VP is that each kid in the school is now mine too.  I now have a class of 153 students which at times is very overwhelming.  There are so many needs to meet and like a class some of my kids take more of my time and energy but each of them is mine to care for, love, and teach.
  4. I can’t implement everything at once and I am going to have to be okay with that.  I had 4 years to learn so much when I was a consultant.  4 years of stock piling ideas, taking pictures and dreaming about being back in a school.  At first I thought I could jump in and implement everything I had waited so long to try.  I wanted to do it all at once and was upset with myself when I couldn’t find the time to make it all happen.  I’m over this!  One idea at a time, one day at a time.  That is my new motto.
  5. I don’t always know what to do (and am now not afraid to admit it).  As a new school based leader I believed it was important for me to know what to do.  I felt I should have the answers to the questions, the solutions to the problems, the next steps at my fingertips.  I felt that the teachers, students, and parents were looking to me for this, and I felt the pressure of this self-imposed expectation.  I now know that I don’t have all of the answers and can freely admit this to others.  What I can also do is give myself the freedom that comes from not reacting with instant “solutions” but from taking some time to think, ask questions, and invite other perspectives.  In the end my actions are more informed and successful.
  6. I am so very happy to be back in a school as a teacher and as an administrator.  It is by far the toughest job I have ever had but it is also the most rewarding.   I see every day the impact I am having.  Daily, I am energized by the laughter, smiles, and learning of children.   I am blessed to spend my days with some truly amazing people.

 

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “It’s Been Awhile…Lessons Learned as a New Administrator”

  1. Hello Ms. Brokofsky, my name is William Taylor, I am a physical education major at the University of South Alabama. This semester I am enrolled in EDM310 and one of our assignments is to post a comment on an assigned teacher’s blog. I was assigned to your blog, and I will be summarizing my visits to my own blog by April 6. Here is a link to my blog: http://taylorwilliamedm310.blogspot.com/. I learned a lot of valuable information from reading your post and I am happy that you are blogging again. Blogging, for me, has been an amazing experience because I have learned so much from students and educators all over the world. I believe it’s important as educators to allow our students to openly and honestly express their thoughts and ideas to us as well as to the whole class. I agree, that’s key we acknowledge as educators that we do not have all the answers and we should seek out advice and guidance from others. I have learned the value of collaboration as a student. Before I was more of an independent learner and thinker but now I am working on creative projects with my peers. I also agree that our lessons should focus on our students’ needs rather than trying to meet the standards on a given week. I believe standards in our classrooms, but it should not take away from engaging our students in creative and innovative projects. I am thrilled to know you are blogging again. I want to thank you for providing me with valuable techniques, methods, and ideas for my future classroom. I, also, hope you visit my blog.

    Thanks. William.

  2. Ms. Brokofsky,
    I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange’s class EDM 310. I would just like to say that I really enjoyed reading your blog, I am glad you are back in the blogging mood. I think also that it is a big change to have a job as a Vice Principal then to a teacher. A Vice Principal has more kids to look after and a teacher has less kids but still an equal amount of responsibility I have heard. I hope to be reading more of your blog posts soon.

  3. Hey Ms. Brokofsky, My name is Felicia Grantham. I am a student (junior) at The University of South Alabama. After reading this post, I am so glad to know that I am not the only one struggling with the idea of not knowing everything. I am a person that has to know everything about what I am doing, and will not be satisfied otherwise. It really is a relief to see you as a VP, not just teacher, say it is alright to not know how to deal with every question and problem that comes to you. Recently, I have been learning a lot about time management and the importance of it. You (others also) said it takes time to find out that everything will not happen the way you plan it, and you must be flexible to adjust to these changes. I am very happy to have read that you have found your way again. This was a very inspirational read for me. Thank You for your wonderful words!

  4. Hello Ms. Brokofsky,
    My name is Mia Britton. I am a Junior at The University of South Alabama. I love your blog ,it was absolutely one of the best blogs that Dr. Strange has assigned to me this semester. I would enjoy an opportunity to work under your leadership. You seem to be passionate about your students and the education that they receive. Teaching and administration work are fields in which you never stop learning or growing. “Education is not preparation for life; Education is life itself.”

  5. Hello Ms.Brokosfsky
    My name is Shelby Jemison and I am an elementary education major at the University of South Alabama. I love that you have expressed that you do not know everything there is to know. That is so great because not only are you an educator but a VP. For some reason people tend to think that educators know everything or at least think they do. As teachers we are all constantly learning and we have to continue to learn each and every day! Your post is truly and breath of fresh air and I loved it!

  6. Hi Ms. Brokofsky,
    My name is Heather Hudgins and I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. I really loved reading your post. I think it is awesome that you were able to get your Master’s degree! I hope to get a Master’s degree someday. I love the point you brought up about adjusting our lesson plans to our student’s needs. I believe that it is more important to cater to your student’s needs than it is to hurry and teach the lesson in a period. I also love that you stated that you do not know everything there is to know. Many people seem to think that as educators we know everything, but that is just not true. Educators must constantly be learning in order to effectively teach our students. Thank you for your wonderful post!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s