My First Two Weeks as a Principal, A.K.A. NuttZo and Excitement
Sometime in my first full week as a Principal, one of the Custodians in the building brought me a gift. Yes, as pictured above. A jar of NuttZo. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s o.k.. I hadn’t either. This certainly started me thinking. A metaphor? A statement of concern? Just an endearing gift for a new boss? I will let you decide after you read about some of the happenings of the past two weeks.
I feel that I have to start by saying that I have absolutely no frame of reference for what the beginning of a new school year should look like for an administrator. I’ve always been on the teaching end, a wondering observer of my past Principals’ strange behaviors and habits. I get it now.
I REALLY get it now.
Where do I begin?
Obviously, I have been handling the administrative duties: calendars, schedules, class lists, budgets, etc…
Then there is the instructional leader work: coaching a kindergarten teacher on five frames, working with a fourth grade team to implement math workshop, helping a teacher think through writing workshop, creating a website of notes from our summer writing workshop training as well as discussing and collaborating with teachers on classroom arrangements.
On to student support:
I’ve taken new students on tours of the building. It has been so fun to see our amazing building through the eyes of a kid!
On a home visit, a colleague and I assured a parent that we would be working extremely hard with her family to support growth in her child.
There have been several I.E.P. entrance meetings, where my favorite questions have been, “What makes your child shine?” and “What are your dreams for your child?”.
We are organizing a school supply “shop” where students can come the night before school and pick out all of their school supplies so that they don’t feel different on the first day of school.
Teachers have “tagged” students to contact on their lists. I’ve been calling these parents, just to ask how their child’s summer has gone. Some of those conversations have been enlightening. Others have been just plain interesting.
Personnel, oh, Personnel:
There are certain aspects of personnel that I will have to work hard to like. Hiring, working with people who don’t necessarily get along, learning about past happenings and how that will effect my work with people throughout the district. Knowing is better than surprises, right?!!?
By now, you are most likely thinking, “What’s the BIG DEAL? Isn’t this what a Principal is SUPPOSED to do?”
Of course, but we haven’t talked about the “Other duties as needed and as assigned” and “those things you don’t learn in your classes”.
1. New first graders will take it upon themselves to self-manage their back to school haircut when scissors are left in the office craft basket.
2. It is a bad idea to wear sandals and open huge steel doors into your toe. That it will slices toes. Deeply.
3. When asking how to use the phone system, never ask the self-proclaimed technologically deficient staff member how to dial out. You will surely mistakenly dial 9-1 and instead of the area code, another 1.
4. Staff members who bring 3 year old children into the building may need to be reminded of places where the fire alarms are within reach.
5. Always know where the alarm keys are within the first 30 minutes of starting your job:
6. Always trust your Custodian when he gives you a jar of NuttZo!