This post is strictly about bragging. My parents always taught it wasn’t nice to brag, but I feel like I have something to brag about. I have to admit one of my favorite things to observe in our building is when our older students willingly step up and help out our younger students. It is something that happens all the time and in many ways and it causes me to have a great sense of pride as their principal.
Last Wednesday our entire student body, staff and a number of parents set out on our annual Toonies for Terry Fox walk. We usually organize ourselves in our buddy groups, older grades with younger grades and off we go with our vice-principal leading the pack. It just so happens that the day of our walk it was very hot and humid. We really hadn’t gone too far when some of our kindergarten students were getting a little tired and the little cheeks were turning red from the heat.
When asked to help, our big grade 7 and 8 students did not even hesitate. I usually try to move through the line so I can talk to various students, take pictures and then end up near the end to help bring in the stragglers. Everywhere I looked I could see older students holding our little students by the hand, talking to them, encouraging them. I asked some of the boys to offer a piggy back or two and without hesitation, most of them were up for the challenge even though they were hot, tired and thirsty themselves.
Once again on Friday of last week, I had the opportunity to watch our students at work, lending a hand without hesitation. We have been working very hard at our school to first raise money for a 2 phase playground installation. The first part was a large play structure for our grade 3-5 playground that we installed a year ago last summer. The second phase was swings, tire swings, a climbing dome and some picnic table mainly on our grade 6-8 playground. We asked our grade 8 students to help with the installation on Friday.
First of all I know that the thought of all day outside on a beautiful Friday was pretty tempting, but even so, I was so impressed with the way some of them tackled the job with enthusiasm and stamina. With the music blasting across the playground, we worked together to figure out difficult instructions, bolt many pieces together and solve problems when we got stuck. I was so impressed with not only the attitude many of them had, but also with the skill level many of them possessed. Maybe bragging isn’t nice, but I can’t help it, I am a very proud principal.
I was reading through some of my twitter feeds this week and came across one from @suewalters titled “A Week in the Life of a Principal” by Kate Fogarty. She decided to keep track of her week reflecting on how she spends her time. Sue was hoping other principals would do the same so we could perhaps share and hopefully learn from one another. I decided to jump on board.
Day 1-November 11– No school today, but it is 2:00 pm and I am looking at my calendar thinking about the week ahead. So far it looks full of meetings both administrative and parent, covering classes so teachers can take advantage of professional development and covering lunch hour supervision for a missing supervisor, catching up with our student leadership teams, a pep rally, staff and building matters and the list goes on…
I am going to try and follow the same format as iprincipal and outline the day as it was planned to go and then see what other things happened unexpectedly as my day unwinds. Wish me luck as well. If you would like to join me we are using #prinblog
At the end of June I reflected on my first year as principal realizing that it had been a great year and although I had done many things right, I had many things I wanted to change. There were times when I wondered if I could lead with my heart because I took things too personally or I was hurt when I was criticized for doing things I felt were good for children.
After reflecting on this I realized I probably couldn’t lead without my heart-not in the way I wanted to lead anyway. I am such a lucky principal to be working in the community that I do, with the staff and students and parents I get to work with. As with any leadership position, especially ones in the public spotlight, there are many times I have been criticized for the things I do. Unfortunately we often hear the criticism loud and clear and the good comments softly and not as often. I watch the staff in my building every day and I am amazed at the things they are able to accomplish. They put in many extra hours and try to do the best for every student in our care. Most days they make my job easy and they certainly always make me look good on a daily basis.
The job of being a principal is a rewarding and difficult job, I have found out. There are countless tasks and expectations that come with the job every day. There never seems to be enough time to do the things I feel are the most important. It is a constant balancing act.
This week I was publically criticized on a talk radio show for a decision I made with my staff to not have a costume parade on Halloween. We have not had a costume parade in our school for 3-4 years now. It seemed like the importance of the costume parade was getting misplaced and causing sadness and disappointment for some of our students. We had students that did not have costumes and often felt left out and sad on what was supposed to be a happy and fun day for everyone. It was for this reason we have done away with the parade at our school.
We have replaced the wearing of costumes with black and orange day. We still celebrate with fun activities and last year we had a short dance in the gym involving all the staff, students and parents, if they chose to attend. It was such a fun time and was enjoyed by everyone (with the exception of the odd little kindergarten student who became overwhelmed by the noise) so we have decided to do it again this year. I love those times when we are all together and I see my older students being such good leaders and mentors to our younger students.
Our middle year’s students work on leadership teams for our school and they will be working hard to plan activities and fun that will pull together the whole PDale School community. It is my hope that no one will feel left out and that we will all be able to have fun in a respectful, caring and accepting environment.
So in my musings and reflections about being a principal, I have decided that I will continue to lead with my heart. I have also realized that I cannot change who I am. In the words of Shakespeare, as a throw back to the number of years I spent teaching high school English, “To thine own self be true.” I hope I can always be true to the most important part of my job and that is to make sure that all of my students are safe and are feeling important and cared about. So to those who feel the need to criticize publically, sometimes it is better to dig to the heart of the matter and see what motivates teachers and principals to make the decisions they do.