10 things I’ve learned as a principal after 100 blog posts.

Update for May 16-20

I started this blog two years ago as a way to reflect on my journey as an elementary principal.  And after 100 posts, I am confident that blogging has allowed me to reflect in public and has had a profound impact on me.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned after 100 blog posts and I thought for this occasion I would share a list of the top 10 things I’ve learned from blogging and being a principal.  It’s a list of reflections, tips, and goals for the future and they are in not particular order.

1. Write for yourself — Who knows who will read your blog or who will even want to.  Therefore, write for yourself.  Create a blog and blog posts that you would want to read.  If others read it and like it, great!  If only you read it, then writing for yourself makes any post one of the best you have read. 

2. Steal ideas and steal them often — The format of my blog came directly from Ben Gilpin.  He’s a much better writer than me, but I liked the format of reflecting, sharing articles, and listing upcoming dates.  It has become a way for me to lead through words.  I share a reflection that hopefully causes my staff to reflect a little and bind us together on working towards a vision of making school better for kids.

3. Read, read, read — I used to tell my fourth grade students that my favorite part of the day was writer’s workshop.  I kept writer’s workshop at the end of the day because that gave us the whole day to read new stories, new information, and new ideas that we could use in our own writing.  Reading is the source of my ideas. I spend each early morning going through my feedly account, Twitter, and Facebook to find an article or post that pushes me to think or one that I think will connect to the work we are doing at school. Often what I read leads me to what I write about on Sunday evening.

4.  Get over yourself — Not everyone will like you or what you write. So stop trying to make everyone like you and stick to working on doing what is best for kids.

5.  Some people want to be told what to do, but don’t tell them what to do unless it’s really necessary — Sometimes you have to be explicit with expectations, but that is not always a card you need to play especially when in the middle of a change process.  Professional growth — the good kind — is usually in the form of arriving at the conclusion yourself.  Being told what to do feels completely different than being guided towards what to do and arriving there yourself.

6.  Kids are 1000 times easier to deal with than adults, but keeping kids first means making sure the adults who work the kids also see what is truly important. 

7.  Blogging is cathartic — Writing about something that connects all of your thoughts from the week helps you clear out what is unimportant and helps you prepare for the work ahead.  Some people journal, others drink or exercise.  I blog (well, mostly I blog).

8.  You’re on a team, but you are all alone — At times, being a principal can make you feel extremely lonely.  There are times when you can’t share what’s going on because you really don’t want others to carry the weight of the situation or problem.  A principal’s job includes protecting others from the garbage that gets thrown at us from time to time.  And that can make you feel really lonely.

9.  Eating lunch with students is worth the all of the spills in your office — I eat lunch with about 30 kids in my office each week.  It is as messy as it sounds. It is also incredibly inconvenient sometimes when 5 first graders show up unexpectedly with lunch in hand.  But it’s easy to let go of what’s frustrating you at that moment when all 5 of them are smiling and laughing.  Taking the time to connect with kids should be a first priority.

10.  I have the best job in the world — One day last October, I was breaking down cardboard boxes with my art teacher after school for our Cardboard Challenge that was going to take place that weekend. 

We needed a ton of cardboard to help our giant maker faire a huge success.  I was tired, I had a headache, my dress clothes were getting dirty, and I had just found out I needed to call a tough parent because their kid saw porn on a school device that another student had somehow managed to look up on Google.

A little later while we were still prepping the cardboard, I turned to Becky (my art teacher) and said, “I don’t think I ever want to leave this role.  I love that I get to do this!”  I truly have the best job in the world because I commit to focusing each second of the time I spend thinking about or working on school related stuff on doing what is best for kids.

The principalship has been the most rewarding work I have ever done outside of teaching.  I’ve never had a doubt about taking on this opportunity.  Each day truly is a new adventure.

Thanks for reading!  Here’s to another 100 posts!

Have a GREAT week!

-Herb


Tweets worth checking out —

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Upcoming dates —

May 17 — K/1 Data Team Half-Day Meeting
May 18 — 2/3 Data Team Half-Day Meeting
May 19 — 5/4 Data Team Half-Day Meeting 

May 18 — ADDC Staff Meeting, ADE Media Center, 3:45
May 19 — Herb Mtg AM
May 20 — School Community Meeting, 2:40pm — PM KG to end meeting by duck-taping me to the wall of the gym.  You’ve been warned…
May 26 — Last Grow Together Thursday
May 30 — Holiday, NO SCHOOL
May 31 — ADE PTO Family Luau

Jun 3 — Last Day of School (Students)

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