One of the great things about being an educator is a mid year break that provides a gulp of fresh air, some days of sleeping in, and a fresh start for what feels like the second half of the school year. I (half) joke that things will slow down again in July, and between now and the end of June, when mortarboards take to the air, the days will be filled with teaching, learning, and adventures I can’t begin to anticipate. Good clean fun.
There are also a host of challenges ahead, some predictable, some surprises, and all surmountable if we keep our heads and stay focused on what matters most.
Beyond staying centered, it helps me to set out specific goals for each semester (as well as for the greater school year), and my three most pressing items as I look at the six months ahead are…
Spend more time in classrooms
This is where the action is. I do my best to visit classes every day, and as we return from Winter Break I’m committed to spending even more time in classrooms watching, talking with teachers and kids, cheering, and teaching a bit myself (a very generous English teacher just invited me to come teach a lesson, and I can’t say how much I’m looking forward to it). It’s important to me to aware of what’s happening in classrooms. How else can I communicate this with parents and our school community? As important as knowing what’s going on is being a hands on leader and participating as much as I’m able in the daily adventure of education.
Create more opportunities to connect with parents
As a dad, I understand the feeling of longing that goes along with having teenagers and wanting to know more about what’s happening in their lives at school. One of my roles as a principal is being the eyes and ears of parents; I get to visit classes, go to lunchtime activities, and see the kids in their natural habitat. In this second half of the year I want to do my best to share this point of view online (Tweeting, blogging, and sharing on our school’s Facebook page), so parents and grandparents can see the great stuff happening on campus. In addition, I’m committed to making my monthly coffees with parents useful, filled with information (on the major construction we’re in the midst of, on the academic work our students are doing, and on the social life at school) presented in a timely and honest way. Along with this, I’d like to add a book club, as I did when I was principal at Diegueño Middle School, and (as a short term goal) will plan one before Spring Break.
Eat my frogs
A counselor I worked with used to call completing those hardest tasks of the day “eating her frogs.” Unpleasant, certainly, but tasks that needed to be done. She made a goal to finish these first, leaving time for the more rewarding work, and I’d do well to take a lesson from her now. As a principal, I have no shortage of frogs on my proverbial plate. Between now and June I’m pulling out a bottle of ketchup and digging in.
I return to work renewed after a Winter Break of board games, good books, and hiking with my family. I’m looking forward to the months ahead, the connections to be made, and the good work to be done.
Busy? Sure. Meaningful? Even more so.
Things will slow down again in July.