As my first semester as a School Administrative Manager (SAM) ends, I’m taking the time to reflect what I learned this semester. I come home every day exhausted and invigorated with this job. In no particular order, 10 things I learned:
10. Being the first one and last one at school does not make me more effective. It makes me tired and actually ineffective. I have found that it is better for me to be there early. So much happens in the half hour before school starts. Parents need questions answered and teachers need coverage. Because of this, I have a morning routine that involves reviewing the day’s agenda, visiting twitter, and writing a positive note.
9. Use please and thank you. I find that I have to ask teachers, students and parents to do things that are out of their comfort zone. The majority say yes. I believe that they do that because it is a request.
8. Smile. It goes a long way. Life is hard and everyone deserves a little kindness. I may not be able to solve a teacher’s challenge or change what a child goes home to. But I can greet each person I meet with a smile. Besides, I do not have the prettiest resting face.
7. Document everything. My job requires me to take on many duties that a principal would perform. My principal is still the leader of my school and he is the one who is called to the table when a decision is made. There is not enough time in the day for me to detail all the decisions I made. So I have a parent contact log on Google drive to document what was said and the type of contact it was. This allows my principal to respond to a parent that may accuse the school of not contacting them.
6. Respect and value people’s ideas. I work with this brilliant teacher, but she doesn’t realize that at that particular second I do not have time to listen to her great idea. I found myself not thinking about what is she asking for. Instead, I was thinking about all of the other things that needed my attention. So out of respect, I now say, “I want to give what you have to say the time it deserves, so would you e-mail it to me so I can reflect and think about it?” When I do this, I find that I give her ideas the proper consideration.
5. Pack a portable lunch. The first week of school, I packed my lunches as if I were an instructional coach. I like to think of myself as a great cook so I had lunches that had to be heated up and which required utensils. I also found that those lunches were never eaten because I had lunch duties, student discipline, and other reasons why I was not at my desk. So now my go-to lunch involves a peanut butter sandwich and a piece of fruit. These can be eaten anywhere.
4. Read something inspiring everyday. I am not going to lie. I work at a high poverty school and it is hard. It would be easy to be discouraged because there is so much need and I am only one. In order to combat that, I read many different blogs that keep me inspired. Here are some of my favorites blogs:
3. Find your Justice League. At my school, a group meets weekly to discuss students we are worried about. This group’s members include the principal, the counselor, the play therapist, the behavior interventionist and myself. We discuss how to help our students become successful at school and in life. So when a challenge occurs, we easily work together to help the student. We also provide each other the support to continue on this journey.
2. Listen. I spend most of my day listening. I listen to parents and teachers. I listen to students explain what happened. I listen to my principal. I find that I am more successful when I listen to understand and not to respond. Every person deserves the respect to be heard. My missteps happened when I did not hear the other person. As my principal says, let your silence do your heavy lifting.
1. Reflect on these questions at the end of each.
- How did I help my school with its goal?
- How did I help my principal be the instructional leader he wants to be?
- Am I closer to achieving my goals because of today?
Using these questions as my guide, I often find that my day is more successful than it may seem on the outside. I also use these questions to focus my day as well.
I am sure as I continue on this journey I will continue to learn and grow.