Tomorrow, I head back to work to begin my second year in administration. As I’m sitting here before going to bed, already at least an hour past my bedtime, I’m having some major reflections of my first year as an administrator, and what I hope to accomplish in my second year. Normally, I would just sit with my thoughts, then go to bed, but since I have this newfound journey of blogging, I thought it could make a decent first post under “School Life.” So, if you’re interested, here are a few things on my mind.
1) I really should have started this blog last year. If you want to truly talk about “lessons learned,” there were a plethora of them last school year. I’m not going to reminisce through every one of them tonight, but when the time feels right, we’ll bring up some of those “memories.”
2) With that being said, one of my biggest goals this year is to bring more life and meaning to the professional development that I provide teachers. A large part of my job entails creating, developing, organizing, and presenting professional development for teachers in our building. This is one of my absolute favorite parts of my job. (Probably because it reminds me of teaching, which I absolutely loved as well.) You know the feeling – you put hours of work into a presentation or a lesson plan, you have everything planned out down to the cheesy jokes you’re telling along the way, and you get that rush as you’re presenting something you’re passionate about. While I’d like to sit here and think that what I organized was super awesome and everybody loved it and wanted to go implement it right away, the realist in me knows that I didn’t meet every teacher’s needs (or wants for that matter).
Don’t get me wrong. I tried. I always put every ounce of effort I have into professional development. I don’t think what I was lacking was effort. We had some PD days that included small breakout sessions, and teachers had a little bit of choice of which session they’d like to attend. We even orchestrated a little mini EdCamp. (A major shout out to our staff who showed up BIG for EdCamp. You guys rocked it.) On a smaller scale, I tried making as many content specific connections and examples as I could in PD presentations throughout the year, as well as including resources that would potentially be really useful (to some teachers). But on the other hand, for the times when we weren’t doing something along those lines, I know I can do better. I can bring more meaningful PD to more teachers. I may not have known it at the time, but every year is filled with growth and learning, and I hope to bring more personalized options to our professional development this year. It may not be perfect, in fact I’m sure it will be far from it, but my goal is to make learning more personalized in our building this year, or at the very least provide teachers with more opportunities for personalized learning, with the hopes of nourishing the growth mindset that already exists within our building. Will every PD day be 100% personalized? Let’s not get crazy. I mean, a girl can dream, and I think down the road, that’s a goal worth setting. This year, hopefully we will make positive strides in personalizing PD, make choices that are good for our building, and ultimately make decisions that are best for our students.
It won’t take you long to figure out that I am a huge fan of John Wooden. I feel like I can always find a quote of his that applies to an aspect of my life. One that I go back to a lot is this one:
You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.
I think praise is great – we all love to hear we are doing well. But it’s also important to stay grounded. There is always room for improvement. And just because some people may have enjoyed what I presented on a certain day, doesn’t mean that it was great for everyone. I need to seek everyone’s feedback to see how I can better myself. In the same breath, take criticism to heart, look to grow and improve. Criticism is an important part of becoming better at what you do. It may hurt or be a shot to the ol’ ego, but last I checked, I’d rather build a solid education for students than build an ego. So sometimes you have to pull an Elsa and “let it go”, and understand that criticism isn’t always a bad thing. (Sorry, I know that “Frozen” reference is way over-used, but when you’re surrounded by Elsa and Anna everywhere you look in your house – it sort of becomes a part of who you are.)
3) Sorry #2 was so long.
4) I’m so excited for our freshman first day. I have over 20 amazing upperclassmen who are going to be running the show that first day freshmen show up. They are fantastic leaders, and I know they are going to rock it. Along with that excitement comes a bit of stress – I have an extremely long to-do list to get ready for that day. Time to get to business tomorrow. Transition years are huge. Having an awesome first day in high school is tremendously important. I want 9th graders and new students leaving that first day thinking, “I want to go back there. That’s a place I want to be.”
5) I am extremely grateful for my mentors that helped me through my first year in administration, and I know will continue to provide me guidance, advice, and friendship. I could not have asked for a better team of administrators at our building and throughout the district to provide me that guidance. What an amazing group of people. I also have a pretty rock-star line up of former principals who have been a phenomenal support system, and who have served as role models that I try to emulate. I also can’t forget my dad – the former school administrator who always brings me back to the question, “What’s best for kids?” We can talk more about my dad in a later post. Those of you who know Scotty know that I can’t sum him up in just a couple of sentences.
In addition to this network of professionals who I look up to and respect whole heartedly, I have an entire world (literally) of support on Twitter. Before this year, I hadn’t ever really thought of leveraging Twitter for professional reasons. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the NASSP national conference this year, and wow, did my eyes open up to a whole new world of learning, filled with unbelievable sights, indescribable feelings (Aladdin, anyone?). Anyway, this whole new world was Twitter. I started following a few people here, a few people there, just kind of looked at what they posted about, would make a few posts about the going ons at school, and I kind of slowly immersed myself into learning via Twitter. Again, I could dedicate an entire post to this topic, but I just want to say thank you to all the principals at the NASSP conference who showed me what an incredible tool Twitter can be. (If you’re up for it – follow me @MeganBlackEHS – I’d love to grow my PLN!!)
6) We are now several hours past my bedtime. Although I’m sad that summer has come to an end (I’m so grateful for the precious time I’ve spent with family and friends these past four weeks), I’m also extremely excited for the beginning of a new school year. It’s going to be a great one. If you’re still reading this – you’re a champ, and I thank you.