One of my realizations early on last year in my first year as being principal was that I was now responsible for growing and empowering my assistant principal. As a connected educator, and someone whose strength is that of an activator, I don’t remember looking to my principal as the person who “grew” me necessarily, but reflectively know that I gleaned much of what I do (or don’t do) from their example. My “first boss” as I affectionately call him was a servant leader in the truest sense of the word. He was the first to stop down and pray over a family or a situation, and was the first person at the hospital if there was a need. It was an amazing example of what I wanted to be…and now, when families are baffled at me visiting their Wolf in the hospital, I am confused. That’s just what kind of principal I want to be.
Knowing that, I am hyper sensitive to the example I am now setting for my assistant principal, or my teachers who want to be administrators. I am who is modeling what she could potentially be. It’s so important to remember that even if I ACTUALLY am cranky, or need to vent, it needs to be done in a proactive or positive manner…to also be cognizant of the eyes that are on me. Values, actions, & behaviors all set the tone that will eventually define those below me. Here are five of my big takeaways that I hope I am able to convey.
5. You’re going to get the behind the scenes from me, not the finished movie. Have you ever worked for someone who seemingly got everything right? That person who always had everything together, and got everything right the first try? Yeah…I’m not that leader. I am messy. I am flawed. I make mistakes. But I will also be the first to admit those errors and do my darndest to not make the same mistake twice. You will see my process, hear my thoughts, and know what all went into something that went well, or what could have gone better.
4. You’re not going to be regulated to “specific” roles. Another highlight of that first principal of mine, was that he treated me as an equal. I wasn’t just there for books and discipline. I want my assistant principal to see ALL things that go into being a principal. I want her voice in the room when decisions are made. I count on her counter balance. I don’t want her to think of this as “my” campus, but as of “ours”, always. Not that sometimes I don’t have to make the big decision, but her input is wanted and valued.
3. I won’t let your focus be on “what you’ve always done”. I am connected educator spoiled. I see a bigger picture than a test, than a curriculum. I will consistently question the status quo. I will think bigger than where we are right now. Think bigger. Dream bigger. Even if what we “dream is a pie in the sky” idea…surely there is a piece of that pie we can make happen.
2. Get ready, you’re going to be my work spouse. Leadership can be a lonely place. Connections that you’ve made ebb and flow with the busyness of the year, and even with the best of intentions those you thought were your “go to” become your “once were”. I won’t allow the frantic pace of our day distract us from having regular conversations to keep us on the same page, we could be all that each other has! Even if we fundamentally disagree, I want to know what you’re thinking and vice versa.
1. Growing isn’t an option. We will get stronger together. We will each have our strengths and we will utilize those to the benefit of our campus. That doesn’t mean that we won’t have places where we each can grow and stretch. I am a lifelong learner and I want to help her see that as a GOOD THING. From books, to tweets, to conferences…there are so many ways we can get stronger…and we will, together.
My sweet AP reconfirmed how well we know each other today with the most incredibility thoughtful gift. A basket full of “13 reasons why she loves me”. Ya’ll. I don’t think my husband has even given me something this thoughtful. Every item in it…so perfect, so me! It reinforced that while I selfishly am determined to be a successful administrator to be GOOD at what I do, I owe it to her as well. That’s the model I want to set…she deserves it.