2. The Teachers' Dedication and Commitment. None of the excitement and engagement can be possible without the dedication and commitment from the summer school teachers. Today, I personally thanked each one of them (the teachers, aides, custodial staff, librarian, secretary, and coach) for sharing their summer with the students. Instead of enjoying their summer with trips, sports, ... they chose to share their time with the students. That has to be recognized. Their dedication, commitment, and hard work has to be recognized.
3. Communication. A great success for me was being prompt and proactive with my communication. Prior to starting this week's service as principal, there were so many email messages being sent about a change in the schedule of students taking a different bus at the end of the day to attend an after school camp at another campus. After I sent a reply asking for clarification, I received feedback from the program director that it was great that I engaged in the process of ensuring the safety of the students after each day at summer school. Another example of the success in communication was sending email messages on the second day of my service to the location of our field trips during week 2, the transportation department at the district office, and also food services to confirm all the details of our trip. Being proactive in checking the details of our field trip schedule, times that the bus picks up and drops off, and the delivery schedule of snacks/lunch for the students on our field trip days was very important to ensure the success of our field trips.
4. Personal Greetings. Beginning each morning and ending each day greeting and talking with staff members, students, and parents was a very successful part of these first five days. It sets the tone for the day. It fosters connection and community. It communicates trust, kindness, and a message that I'm happy to see them.
5. Partnering with and Supporting the Teachers. I started this role with a few guideposts in mind. I knew my position as the administrator of summer school was one of support. Supporting teachers deliver their enriching lessons was an honor that I had. My position was one of partnership. I knew I was a partner with the teachers in their brainstorming, their celebration of the students (I shared in their celebration through many tweets), and their management of behaviors. My view of my leadership position was one that led by walking alongside the teachers.
2. Volunteers. As mentioned above, placing the high school volunteers was quite a challenge (this could be volunteer adults and parent volunteers). On day 1, I had four high school volunteers who were starting their volunteer hours with this second session of summer school. I had to ask them which grade level(s) they're interested in helping, ask staff members who could use the help of volunteers, and try to find a match that would hopefully ensure each person found the partnership helpful and productive.
3. Working Relationships. Prior to starting this role of principal, I was a colleague to the summer school teachers. This week I took on a different role. With it there seemed to be an apprehension from the teachers to speak to me, a seriousness in our conversations, ... As much as I worked on partnering and supporting teachers (which is definitely a success as listed above), I kept hearing phrases in my head: "You're not fit to be principal. They're watching you. Why are you doing that? Are they judging me?" The working relationships was definitely a challenge I faced that may have been self-inflicted but nevertheless a challenge of beginning this position of principal.
4. Dealing with Behavior Issues. As a classroom teacher, you have the opportunity to build connections with your students that can help you with combatting and preventing behavior issues. Knowing your students helps a great deal. As an administrator, especially a summer school principal, you don't always have the luxury of knowing the student that gets sent to the office. You don't necessarily know which path to take with the child, which method would be most effective. As a new principal with students who are new to you, it feels like your attempts are like shooting in the dark.
5. Changes in Schedules. A specific challenge I faced this week was with changes in the students' busing schedule. Some students needed to take a different bus for after school programs they needed to go to and got on the wrong bus. After several phone calls with transportation, the bus drivers, and the parents, we reach solutions to ensure the safety of the child, but it sure wasn't an easy process.
Five Tips/Reminders/Things to Think About
1. Always be in your Teachers' Corner. As mentioned on point five of the five successes, partnering and supporting your teachers is paramount to the success of you as an administrator. Guide your staff. Empower them to grow themselves. Always believe in them. This is true of the "star teachers" and those who need support.
2. Get to know Everyone. Greet everyone, get to know your staff and students, learn about each person's strengths, areas of growth, passions, joys, concerns, ... This will help with building positive school culture, staff morale, connections with students, and a sense of community. As commonly mentioned in teaching credential programs, the two most important people on a school campus are the secretary and custodian. Get to know them.
3. Schedule your time. Create time limits for being in the office, checking your email inbox, ... and get into classrooms. The classrooms are where the magic is happening. The classrooms are where the joy is found. Scheduling timeframes to do administrative things and sticking to those time limits will help free your time / prioritize your time to get in the classrooms.
4. Look Ahead. In any position, having a sense of the big picture is important. Knowing what's coming down the line is important to plan, prepare, and to be proactive. Sometimes, you can get caught up on the details of the task or the day. Keep an eye on the big picture. Think about what's scheduled next week, next month. Think about potential issues that may arise. Think about ramifications of each action you take.
5. Reflect and Celebrate. With all things, at [the end of] all times, remember to stop, breathe, reflect, and celebrate. You are doing great work. You are working collaboratively with professionals to help children learn, grow, think, question, comprehend, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, discover, design, construct, fail, recover, revise, ... and live.