Sunday, January 8, 2017

Too important to do alone.

I'm approaching a milestone in my career... it's almost my one year "work"iversary as a Principal and Lead Learner.

For those of you that have been following our blog, you know that this wasn't a typical experience of a new Principal, but I wouldn't change this for the world!

From the moment I got into education I realized that I really wanted to have a global impact on student learning and social emotional wellbeing.  I was addicted to helping students see the potential I saw in them, and that desire grew when I was able to do the same for the passionate and sometimes disheartened teachers as well.

However, what I quickly learned is that  being a Principal is humbling.

It's Incredibly humbling because it's something that can't be done alone and for some of us that have control issues (cough cough... me) it can be difficult to pass control and delegate important tasks on to others.

In this one year I have learned that it starts with taking time to understand our personal leadership mission and purpose.  What I have always known is that my core foundation is serving kiddos.  Every decision that I make stems from, "what's best for kids," and, "what research and data supports this decision."  Knowing the students are my essence helps everyone who I interact with.  They know to frame their requests with how it will benefit our students and increase student achievement or student emotional well being. It doesn't hurt that I have the most incredible Assistant Principal (the yin to my yang) and administrative assistant.  They both lead with thier hearts in helping others, exuding this sentiment in every capacity.

Next I learned not to make assumptions.  I came into a school mid-year and it truly took time to watch what was taking place and really decifer what could be tweaked to maximize results.  Building up the leadership team that serves our students and teachers is a necessity.  Shifting roles from a hierarchy of perceived power to a level playing field, where we all serve as instructional coaches, has helped us align to meet the needs of all stakeholders.  We are in this together.  The importance of our tribal council at VBE can not be devalued.  I'm so lucky to have the strongest team with a common mission and vision paving the way for student and teacher success every single day.  It wasn't easy and I think that helps all of us not take for granted the strong VIBE we now have together. Together is key.

Next is our TRIBE!  We must insist that every single member of our staff stay inspired by change and be held accountable to driving improvement forward.  I am a firm believer that there isn't a school in this country with harder working teachers.  We push each other, we question each other, and we share our #failforward moments together.  My role in this is to continuously shine light on those who go above and beyond and feverishly push all boundaries towards innovation.

Next is that we could not possibly do this without our community. The learning alliance, district personnel, and parents HAD to be invested for us to do the hard work.  Repairing our reputation and replenishing lost relationships were vital in our transformation over the past year.  Recognizing the value of all our stakeholders and requesting support and acknowledging their efforts is something I feel our school excels in.  We needed them and they came out in full force!  We couldn't do this without the full support and help of all involved!

Beyond what is required from our local community and within the walls of the school, this past seven months I feel I have grown tremendously by focusing on my own pedagogy and insisting on personal self improvement. This can not be done alone either. It's too important to be fixed in a leadership mindset, we must evolve and be open to opportunities to grow.  Luckily, my educational partner in crime and the other lead learner at VBE, Rachel Moree; has the same perspective.  We love learning.  We love dorking out on new books, podcasts, and projects.

What I have also realized in this year is that being an admin is no different than being a teacher in so many ways.  One of the greatest philosophies that I learned as an educator is that you," steal from the best and make it your own."  This transfers to the role of a leader too.  By growing my personal Learning Network (PLN) through twitter and my incredible Voxer groups; Moms as Principals & Principals in Action, I have been able to cultivate a high performing positive environment through vetted programs, strategies, and reflection. I love that we are constantly challenging each other and using our tribe as a sounding board for ideas and strategies.

In growing as a leader, one thing that has helped push me forward personally is having an incredible, unforeseen mentor to help me really hone in my intent and purpose.   In a chance encounter, I met someone who truly helped me prioritize my goals, manage my time, and frame my thoughts towards high-yield leadership strategies. Dr. Bobby Moore has guided me to a personal commitment of blended data-driven decisions, social emotional focus, and balance in my life.  He works with Batelle for Kids, and I can't imagine being in the position I am this year without his support and pushing over the last 7 months.  He has urged me to catapult out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to take risks, most importantly to be reflective and willing to tell the story of transformation.  Thanks to him, Rachel Moree and I submitted a proposal and will be facilitating a break out session on data and transformational leadership at FASA this year. I also will be working on moderating an international chat on twitter soon.  So many risks, but it's important for us to continue to tell our story so everyone knows that this work is too important to do on our own.

What I love most about education is that there is always room to grow.  Having this first year under my belt is completely gratifying.  Knowing where the school was... and where it is now... I can't help but jump up and down and want to scream about the progress our tribe has made!!!   My true hope is that in twenty years I still crave feedback and I understand the fact that this work is much too important to do on our own and that I welcome every single opportunity to grow and reflect.

Ultimately, it's too important to do alone.  Everyone working with children should feel a burning urgency to help every single one reach their true potential!

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