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.