I have had many people tell me this year that “The first couple weeks are the hardest”. Then it became “The first couple months”, and eventually “The first year”. I know this, it has been tough. So many transitions, so many new expectations both for me and from me, and so many eye-opening experiences. I thought I would write about a few of the changes with the hopes that some of you that read this will offer some insight, some advice or share some of your experiences.
This is has been a tough one, and I have written a bit about this already, but I honestly feel it is the best place to start. I have had some trouble with the way the students have reacted to my new position. I want them to treat me exactly the way they did before, when I taught Gr. 9 Math, PE and coached the basketball team. When I was in this position it was easy to connect with kids, talk about anything, and really get to know them. The students I had built relationships with still treat me the same way, and I really appreciate it, but since I haven’t taught or coached 95% of them, it isn’t the norm. I get bummed by the way some of them see me and immediately assume trouble, or feel they need to explain themselves. I hate the uncomfortable tension that exists when I walk up to a group of them in the hall. I am working very hard to break down the expectation the students have for me, but I know it will take time.
I became the assistant principal in the same school I taught in for 3 years prior. The staff members are my colleagues and friends with whom I have shared many great moments. Our relationship has naturally had to change, and I have had to learn how to handle that. I have received amazing support from so many in the form of kind words, excellent advice, compassion and understanding as I find my way in my new position. I have found the transition awkward at times when I struggle with my colleagues coming to me for answers to questions, advice with problems, or looking for my support. Had I been approached as a teacher I probably would have handled these moments much more smoothly, but at times now I fumble with my response, intimidated by expectations, most of the time unrealistic, that I place on myself. I want to please the staff so badly that I make myself crazy over analyzing situations that are far simpler than I make them. I want to help and be someone they are proud to work with, but I need to temper that with reasonable goals for myself.
I realize this position carries a lot of weight with parents. When it comes to their children, they want the administration to be hardworking, trustworthy and committed to their child’s success and well-being. As a teacher and coach, I found most of my relationships with parents to be strong. I worked hard and they knew I was committed to helping their child. This year I have seen a whole new level of what parents expect from me. I believe I can be there for their children and that I can meet their needs as an administrator, but it is a little intimidating. I have found that in a parent’s mind, administration is that last line of defense at school, and they want to be sure they trust that the school is well represented and their children are in good hands. When it comes to parents, I really am going to have to work hard to connect with them so that I can feel like I am doing enough to earn their trust.
I always want to challenge myself, and taking this job, I knew this would be another great challenge. I wasn’t completely prepared for all the differences, but I feel like I have got my head around what I have to do, and change, to be successful. I want to take the time to thank all the people who have commented on my blog with great advice or to share an experience. You have helped me immensely, and I hope you will continue to share with me your insights into education and administration.