As a school leader there can be so many priorities and so many fires to put out in a day.
Just yesterday I had a beautifully laid out schedule that included time to finalize my evaluation lists for the year, review my Friday Focus and get out to the playground….and then one of the wheels fell off our well oiled bus. A paraprofessional quit-a parent came in upset about an issue-a teacher had to leave- and we had a substitute administrative assistant all within the first 30 minutes of the day.
While these happen-I am learning I may not be able to prevent some of the hiccups-but I can be proactive in prioritizing time in classrooms and with staff to ensure that even on a rough day I can still be a visible leader.
- Schedule the Time. “What gets monitored-gets done” is something we say during data meetings. But this can also be applied to leading as well. If I want the people in the building (and the families as well) to see me as an instructional leader…well then I need to set conscious time in the classroom-every day. My good friend Eric Ewald challenged me to be present in every classroom…every day. I started this last January as a school resolution and it has continued into the new school year and has been one of the best things I have done! Every morning from 8:30-9:00 I stop into each of the 15 sections of kindergarten and welcome every class. Sometimes that means just a brief wave and good morning, other times that means I am dancing to the ‘Go Noodle’ body warm-up, saying the Pledge of Allegiance with the class or listening to the morning message with 24 kindergarten students. The administrative assistant knows right were I am and doesn’t schedule meetings for me until 9:10 every day. I have also found that even if I have an upset parent arrives in the office around that time-they are always willing to wait until I finish my morning greetings, some have even commented that they appreciate the time spent starting the day off on a positive note for their child!
- Read to Classes. “Reading to classes hands down the most influential action I do as a Principal” (Kids Deserve It). Based upon many conversations in the Admin in Actions Voxer group this year I jumped in and put a sign up in the work room for teachers. I said I could come in and read “The Dot” book to their class. I was surprised when I came back a day later and every spot was filled! This past week I spent only 3 hours of my week reading to classes, but now at bus dismissal I have so many more students greeting me by name and talking about their own experiences with trying difficult things. If you need the nudge to start this-please check out Adam Welcome and Todd Neslony’s book “Kids Deserve It”. If you need ideas for book titles check out this recent blog post as well: Todd and Adam’s Favorite Books
- Go on a field trip. Even off campus-you can create a positive vision of your leadership and school. This August I had the opportunity to chaperone a field trip with my direct supervisor John Alberts. We had a group of about 8 kindergarten students that we toured through the new SPAM museum in our community (that in itself is a whole other blog). Learning more about their own personal interests and family backgrounds (many of our students’ families work for the company that produces SPAM so it was need to hear their perspectives) builds a much stronger bridge with students and families. And to top that off one of our school board members was at the museum as well and gave both of us a positive shout out at the next board meeting!
- Teach Something. Genius Hours and Passion Projects are not just for students and teachers-leaders can have a part in these opportunities as well. Starting in late October I teach (yes teach) all 340 students the music for our Holiday Sing. Two days a week during recess I hold three sections of music class (averaging about 80 students per class). We practice the songs and discuss musical styles, history of songs and incorporate movement breaks during the class. In January I also offer a Coding Club for a small group of students. One time per week I wheel out my Makerspace cart (thank you Brad Gustafson) and we get to work. Honestly by week three the students (even 5 year olds) have surpassed my skill sets in coding Sphero and BeeBot and love to show me their new tricks!
I hope these ideas have sparked something for you and your campus. As the school year is just starting it is a perfect time to set a goal and create a routine for yourself to get in classrooms and out in your school!
Keep dreaming BIG for our LITTLEST learners