This is my first post for the Fueled by Vroom Compelled Tribe blog group, a group of educators who have committed to reflecting through blogging. Our goal is to blog monthly around common topics and then give each other feedback on our blogs. You can view the members of this group by looking at the blog roll on the right of my home page. We are led by Craig Vroom, a Principal in Ohio. Our first topic is how we are gearing up for the new year!
This year marks the start of a new journey for me. After having spent the past fifteen years as a teacher, I am moving into my new role of Assistant Principal, at a new school, in a new district. I am excited, eager, and also a little bit nervous as I step out of a comfort zone and embrace the new! In the past, gearing up for the new year meant buying supplies, planning my room arrangement, gathering information about my new students, gabbing with my teammates, and planning new and exciting ways to teach my content. Not this year! It’s a strange feeling…not knowing what you don’t know. I do not have a checklist in my mind of how to get ready for the year, when I have never experienced this from an AP standpoint. I’m viewing the world through a new lens, and taking it all in as I go. So instead of tasks and checklists related to a particular “role”, I’m going to describe how I am gearing up for a brand new experience.
One of the major things I am doing to prepare myself for this new role is reading and reflecting on the ideas of others. I am reading books that some friends have suggested to me related to leadership, coaching, and serving others. Some of the books I have read this summer include:
- Engaging Students – Schlechty
- The Energy Bus – Jon Gordon
- Motivating and Inspiring Teachers – Todd Whitaker
- What Great Principals Do Differently – Todd Whitaker
- World Class Learners – Yong Jhau
- The Immortality of Influence – Salome Thomas – EL
- Examined Lives – James Miller (This is a personal read, but filled with information about the great philosophers and how their ideas shape us)
There are some common ideas and themes that really resonate with me. Things such as being present. Being a listener. Being a learner. Spreading joy and positivity. Being visible. I am consuming a lot of information, but making mental connections as I go and identifying main “hooks” on which to hang this learning. I think these hooks have generated themselves because they speak directly to my own passion and interest. What type of leader do I want to be? One who is present, and visible. One who is helpful, and acts as a servant leader. One who lets teachers, parents, and students know how valued and valuable they are to our community-often and sincerely. Who spreads joy and gratitude. One who collaborates, and facilitates. One who is here to listen, and be a sounding board. So the ideas in these books that are resonating with me, fit into those categories and big ideas. So, as I read, I am identifying and strengthening my own purpose and mission. This is helping me to “gear up” !
Setting My GPS
Along this same line, I have identified five words that are going to serve as my personal GPS for the year. This idea came from a summer learning series I have participated in with Todd Nesloney (@TechNinjaTodd) principal of Navasota Intermediate School in Texas. We were asked to identify five words that we hope our teachers, students, and community would use to describe us. How do we want to be seen by others? My five words for this year are:
I am going to frame this Wordle and hang it in my office. Every day, when I see it, I can think about my own GPS for the year and ask myself how the conversations and activities I engage in daily line up with the GPS. I am hoping that this simple but powerful GPS will guide my interactions and decisions, so that everything I do is in line with these values. If you would like to do this challenge yourself, here is a video that Dave Burgess (Teach Like A Pirate author) created for this summer learning series, with further information:
One of the important things we can do as we embark on a new challenge is to stay cognizant of our own health. New things can cause stress, and too much stress can cause physical sickness and just wear us down in general. So, I am making sure that I am eating right, that I get enough sleep, and that I am exercising regularly. This last one is a little challenging for me, because my new hours are different and going to require me to get creative with my gym time. But for now, early morning is working. I am also stocked up on the vitamins!
This is hard, because I am so eager to get started and I want to just spend 24/7 on this new role!! But, it’s important to have a balance and make sure that I am making time for myself and my family. Spending time in my normal Twitter chats is good for me, because this is a hobby but also allows me to connect with others and grow my PLN. Watching movies with my daughter, going out to eat with the family, reorganizing the pantry so that I can find things (something I have wanted to do for a long time), and redecorating my personal space have been some fun ways to relax and keep the balance. Currently, I am working on a project in my bedroom closet. All carpet and padding is ripped up, and I am preparing the floor so that I can paint the concrete. I am excited to see how this is going to look!! I also have been spending a lot of time at my mom’s house on the lake. The serene environment and beauty that surrounds her place is good for the soul. We have been having many great times together, which is priceless. Here is a picture looking out on the lake from her back deck:
Once I start working, I will add to this list of important focus areas, including building relationships (my first order of business!). I have a yearbook that I asked for about a month ago and I am steadily “getting to know” faces and names. But for now, these four things are what’s going on in my life right now. So many different things are, in their own way, helping me to gear up for a new role in a new school district. But these are four that I am being purposeful about, spending a lot of time on, and that I believe will have a great impact on my year. What about you? How are you gearing up for a new year? I would love to hear from you!