One of my greatest strengths has often been one of my biggest weaknesses. I'm passionate about everything. I love trying new things, taking on new projects, and even biting off more than I can chew at times. This year, I really branched out on many new projects in education. I went from being an active member in MEMSPA (Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association) to serving on the Board of Directors. I also joined the MEMSPA Leadership Matters cohort that meets for 8 weekends to develop leadership skills. I went from being a member of the Compelled Tribe to leading a group of my own. I joined the Michigan Ed Voice Fellowship and advocated for educators in our state capitol. I attended several conferences, met with speakers and authors, and I also did more professional reading this year than in any other year as principal. I exposed my staff to concepts like Genius Hour and Instructional Rounds. When asked by one of my teachers mid year how many committees most principals served on, I proudly said that the average was three, but I was on six. I didn't realize at the time that she was politely pointing out to me that I was not in the school as much as I had been in the past. Luckily for me, my secretary realized that I needed a more direct approach and told me bluntly (but politely) that the staff was suffering from my absence in the classrooms and even from the school. The same message came through in the staff surveys. While I scored very high in trust, respect, and integrity (the three most important things for me), I scored lower in dealing with things in a timely manner and providing support. This was a huge blow to me.
With all of my "initiatives" and activities designed to become a better leader, I had lost focus on my staff and our building. I had a new teacher that was really struggling with her classroom. There were discipline issues that were growing into real problems, because I had not worked closer with the teachers and the families. I had focused more on being a leader than actually leading and helping others. Luckily, I was able to heed the advice given and redoubled my efforts to support those who needed it and "Be There" for all my staff and students as we came back from spring break and finished the year on a good note.
Now, it wasn't all bad this year. We did some amazing things this year like flipping staff meetings to turn them into mini PD sessions. We implemented Celebrate Monday assemblies to start each week on a positive note. There was also more innovation in the classrooms this year than ever before, due to teachers taking chances and trying new things with technology. Overall, it was a good year, but I learned an important lesson. My focus needs to be on the students, staff, and building needs and not on me. Yes, I want to be a better leader and continue to grow, but I need to remember to find balance and how to prioritize. In the end, I'm only successful when my students and my teachers are successful.
photo credit: johngroberg.com
PEARLS OF WISDOM
"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything." - John Wooden
"Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them." - Bruce Lee
"There are only two mistakes one can make along the road of truth; not going all the way, and not starting." - Buddha
Learning from Mistakes Video (3 minutes)