Thursday, May 25, 2017

End of Year Reflection...3....2...1

It's the time of year when all principals spend endless hours writing summatives to help their staff reflect on the school year. In helping teachers reflect on their practices this year and what they are looking forward to next year, I felt compelled to carve out some much-needed time to reflect on my journey as I bring my 4th year (3rd year at my current campus) as an elementary principal to a close.

These are the questions that I asked the staff during their end of year why shouldn't I answer them for my end of year reflections as well?

3 - What are the three celebrations you have this year?
  • Leading by example - it was my goal to demonstrate my commitment to lifelong learning by modeling risk-taking, maintaining an innovator's mindset and showing that failing forward is the norm at our campus...this year's grade A-
  • Deepening my professional growth and development through various PLNs - by surrounding myself with like-minded principals, in my district and across the country, most of whom I have never met, and may never meet, I have broadened my horizons and the knowledge attained from #MomsAsPrincipals and #PrincipalsInAction have made me a better leader, wife, mother, and person....this year's grade A+ for sure.
  • Opening the doors of our campus to host more than 100 visitors this year to share our blended learning successes and struggles. We sailed the ship while we were building it and it was by no means smooth sailing, but when students share how meaningful this year was to them and how much fun they had along the way, I'll count that as an #EduWin!...this year's grade A

2 - What are two areas you know you need to continue to work on next year?

  • I continue to ask myself - What do I need to do differently to build relationships with the staff? We discuss the 3 R's on our campus, rigor, relevance and relationships...and when asked to put them in the order of importance as it relates to students, relationships always surface as the most important R. My goal is to have every staff member know that my care and concern for them is not simply about them as an educator, but them as a person....a mom, brother, wife, son, sister....this year's grade B...B+ would be a stretch
  • Being deliberate in explaining the why behind decision-making and encouraging/promoting problem solving especially when opportunities for negativity begin to rare its ugly head...this year's grade B-

1 - What is the one thing you would change about your experience this year?
  • I don't believe that I will ever achieve a work-life balance. Balance, to me, means 50/50. I do, however, need to establish a healthier ratio where I establish times that are non-negotiable to spend time with my family and do what's needed to take care of my mental and physical health. After all, health is my #OneWord2017...and at best, I have a D as my grade this year.

Now what?
Within the past two weeks, I have had at least four staff members share that while they once thought they would become a principal, they would never want to be a principal now. Of course, I was devastated when they said that because for me, that means I am not being a good model. They shared it's not because they think I do a terrible job, but because they think I do a great job, and see all that is required...which includes sacrificing time with your personal family in an effort to support your school family. I give 200% each day for 972 kiddos whose blood does not run through my veins, at the expense of time with 3 kiddos who I pray will one day see that I have modeled for them the value in being committed, dedicated and passionate about the choices you make in life...because leadership is a choice. I also want them to know that you must surround yourself with people who will lift you up, because you cannot go through life alone. 

So in reflecting, my advice to everyone is to find your tribe..for me that's my MAPS...Moms as Principals...we learn, cry, collaborate, pray, vent, encourage and support each other..because no one else in the world understands all that comes with wearing those two hats. No matter what path you choose, you are only going to become a better person if you surround yourself with people who will challenge you, who will celebrate your successes, who will validate your hardships, but also tell you to get over it when that's what you need to hear.

Who do you need to surround yourself with?