Friday, August 30, 2013

Finding Simplicity...

As I reflect on the arrival of another Friday, I am amazed at the "normalcy" of this new job.  Let me explain...

Months ago when my promotion was announced, I received a lot of congratulatory messages.  I also received a lot of advice about how this job was going to be tough but that I could handle it. During the summer, I began to wonder on both already know that I spent days purging the office that I was moving into.  As I embarked on that process, I found that I was getting rid of items I had no idea were attached to my office and job responsibilities!  Hmmm, COULD I handle this job?  If all these "extras" were part of the title, the the toughest hurdle for me would be the time management needed to address the endless minutiae.

Fast-forward to the end of this week.  Week 3 of school for us.  I have had numerous faculty and parents compliment me on the job that I am doing and that has given me pause.  Because to be honest, I don't feel that I have done much at all.  I have made a few decisions, given some parent presentations, spoken to parents and students about their questions and concerns.  And I have been in classrooms, in the hallways, in offices, talking to faculty and staff.  Wishing them a great day, asking about a project or new lesson.  Sitting in on classes.  Asking students about a particular lesson.  None of this, to me, seems unusual, challenging or out of the ordinary.  However, to the faculty and staff here it appears to be extra-ordinary and very welcome.

And that minutiae that I excavated during the summer?  Well, as it turns out much of that never belonged in the office anyway!  Turns out my predecessor was not always timely in getting rid of old items.  So getting rid of what I did was allowing me to simplify the scope of my office.  I highly recommend that to anyone.  Simplicity is best.  It is the easiest way to prioritize.  If you identify and address the boulders, the pebbles seem to find their way to a resolution without any effort at all.

So, as I conclude this week, I am appreciative of the relative simplicity of my job.  I am appreciative of the support of parents, students, faculty, staff, and my fellow Administrators.  I have quickly come to realize that as with any relationship, it is not in the "wow" moments--which come very infrequently--but in the simple moments that the job is done.

So as you head into this wonderful and welcomed 3-day respite, savor the simple moments for they will be the ones upon which your relationships are built and your effectiveness as a leader is measured.

Photo courtesy of the view from my office.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Only 35 More Fridays to Go...

So make the most of this and every Friday!

That was how I started my email to the faculty for today.  As the first week of school draws to a close I learned two very important lessons (IMO):

1. There is more in my "to learn" bucket right now than there is in my "I know this!" bucket  and

2. What I know doesn't matter so much as how I handle what comes across my desk

My second point is going to be critical as the "I'm new to this office" excuse will only last for so long.  In the mean time, I feel I worked hard to set a great tone with faculty, staff, parents and students this week.  I was out of my office more than I was in it.  I was in classrooms, directing students, answering questions for parents, solving problems, sharing ideas, listening to concerns.

There were questions asked for which I honestly had no answer.  I had to say so.  That is pretty humbling.  But no one seemed to mind.  Perhaps because I was honest?  Perhaps because it was a human response?  I am not sure.  But I do know that at the end of the day, and at the end of the week, at least at the end of this first week, I had far more people telling me how grateful they were for what I was doing and telling me that it was o.k. to not have an answer.  Wow!  I wonder if I ever told a student that it was o.k. that they didn't have an answer.  Probably not.  This is an important point to remember as I will have many students in my office in the coming months and I am willing to bet that at least a few of them will not have an answer to a question I will ask them.

So, we have 35 more Fridays until summer vacation (not counting holidays).  My goal: To make the most of each and every one because at the end of the day, I may not have cleared my "in box" and I may not have known the answer to every question.  But I will know that I did my best and attempted to handle each situation with honesty, compassion, and realism.  And that, to me, is making the most of my day.

Photo from