Sunday, September 20, 2015

As an Admin, I Wish You Knew (Part 1) #iWishAdmin

I became an administrator a little over a year ago.  Never did I even imagine all that goes on behind the scenes of a school. Man my eyes have been opened!

As I was driving home the other day, I thought about the fact that there are many elements to education that people don't understand if they're not in that side of it.  And sometimes we want to tell people about it, but it feels like we're bragging, or complaining, or sharing too much.

So I had an idea....I wanted to reach out to about 40 of my administrator friends that I am connected with and ask them "What do you wish people knew about administrators in education?".  And the responses that I got were powerful.



And then I thought, why stop there?  So from that idea a new mini-blog series was born.  This post is the first in a 4-Part series of "I Wish You Knew".  This week's post is from administrators across the globe.  Then over the next 3-4 weeks I will be releasing a "As a Teacher, I Wish You Knew (Part 2), and then "As a Parent, I Wish You Knew (Part 3)", and then "As a Student, I Wish You Knew (Part 4)".

I truly hope these posts inspire you to stop and reflect on your own preconceived notions of each of these extremely important jobs in education; administrators, teachers, parents, and students!

So here's this week's post.  All submissions were submitted anonymously to inspire people to be as honest as possible.  Some made me laugh, some made me think, and some made me tear up. I polled about 40 administrators from all over the world to gain these insights.  Please feel free to join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #iWishAdmin


"That I care about my students the same way I care about my children. My students are my children. Not numbers, not subgroups, not codes in the system. These children are my children and I want them to know that."

"That I can make more of a difference if Central Office Administration would allow me the flexibility to try new risky ideas with my campus. I want to do things differently, but cannot if they do not allow us. We cannot make changes if the top is not willing to make changes themselves. Allow me the opportunity to help by letting me take risks and bringing in more innovation into the classrooms."

"That this work is hard. Everyday I show up and give it my all because the kids, teachers, support staff and community deserve it. I work longer hours than my family would like me to, but I do it because my school deserves it. I do it with a smile and a grateful heart, and I try to make it look easy. Our kids deserve the very best and I hope that I can live up to that for them."

"We never stop thinking about your kids, both in their successes and their struggles. Sometimes we have to place that hard call home, but we never give up hope even if you think we might."

"That I care as deeply as teachers, parents and support staff. Sometimes "admin" are seen as aloof, in an office, detached. Not so. I want what's best for these students just as I want what's best for my own two sons. I try not to get "stuck" in policy, I dislike students being defined by test scores and I want teachers to be respected and valued. Our goals are aligned. I love my job."
  
"It is hard work. Our tasks are always secondary to the tasks of those that we serve. Breaks are seldom, and lunchtime frequently comes after students have been dismissed. Our days never play out as we have them planned. And days, weeks, months, years all pass very quickly."

"Unfortunately, as an administrator, it can be easy to become cynical. People usually seem more willing to tell us about the things that we aren't doing well/could do better. (Please, if you are happy with something that we are doing - share that with us; it will make our day!) It is our responsibility to seek out the positives and share that message. Our kids and our teachers need models of positive energy, not cynics."

"We aren't perfect. Based off of the information and resources that we have, we do the best that we can. We, too, always want to do better/more. We care about kids, and hopefully our actions and decisions reflect that."

"Our job is a lot of fun. It has to be one of the best jobs in the world. Even in the hard times, I can't imagine any other job that I would enjoy more than being a building principal."

"That I care about your children very much and work tirelessly to support them. Please trust the school when we tell you something, it's for your benefit and your child to be supported."

"That we always keep our students at the center of every decision we make. Even if it's not easy, if it's in the best interest of children, that is what we do."

"...that we REALLY DO make every decision with the best intentions, with all information we have, and what is in the best interest of the students. Promise!"

"As an Administrator, I wish you knew how hard it is to be in classrooms but not be able to "teach" in them. Yes, we get plenty of opportunities to interact with kids, but there is something special about having your own classroom of students that you are able to develop that unique relationship with over the course of the year. Cherish that and know that I'm jealous!"

"I wish people knew how deeply I missed teaching. I wish they knew that I am as invested in relationships with students in my current role as I was in the classroom. "

"I wish there was more trust between teachers and administrators. That there was no question that the one group always believed the best about the other, that there was generous trust among colleagues, and that all energies were spent on investing in the lives of our students (not tangentially related issues). "

"I wish people knew how much I wish I could do more to reward our teachers. Their work is so valuable."

"I wish people knew how lonely the admin job can feel at times."

"I wish people knew that I am trying as hard as I can to prioritize tasks well, that I know that things can improve in this area, but that I am growing in the right direction and improving each month and semester."

"How much I dislike having state tests tied to teacher evaluations."

"Every decision I make is based on "What is best for kids""

"My best days are when I'm in the classroom."

"I'm in awe of teachers are able to do on a daily basis."
"I believe teaching is the most noble profession there is."

"That I love my job because I love working with children AND teachers. Being an administrator is so unique because we get to be part of the learning process for both the kids and the adults in the school. I want you to know that that means I spend a lot of my time advocating for students and what they need but also for what teachers need to further their professional learning too. You will see me in lots of meetings and preparing presentations and that may look like I'm not involved in the school but I'm really creating the foundation of learning for everyone. I want you to also know that I make sure I get to a class a day so that I can see the hard work from my advocating as well as the work of all the teachers and students in action. That means that I won't always be in my office to answer every call or email when it happens. Lastly, I want you to know that I do not enjoy being a disciplinarian for students, nor for teachers; however, I accept that part of my job as a tool to help everyone find their path for growth and improvement. That means that whether I am discipling a child or observing a teacher, I'm doing it to help them grow, not catch them being "bad". In the end, I want you to know that you can trust me, that learning is always at the heart of my actions."

"I have rarely had a full-night's sleep in the last three years...it weighs on my mind what I could do, what I should have done, what I wish I had done, what I want to do next, what I wish I could have said, what I'm not doing right now...it is both exhilarating and exhausting all at the same time!"

"It would be great if every now and then, you asked, "How can I help you?" rather than "What can you do for me?"

"Your "major issue" is important to you (and it is to me), but please remember that I have 50 other's "major issues" fighting for my time and attention!"

"Nothing can quite prepare you for becoming a school administrator. The internship, the coursework and the readings help but they do not compare to real-world experience. One of the first times I sat down and met with an angry parent I was scared to death. Now, after hundreds of meetings with parents I have come to enjoy them. The first time you have to make a difficult decision you question yourself and you wonder for days if you made the right one. Now after having made many difficult decisions I still question myself, but I don't worry as much."

"Just like administrators are constantly learning, we realize that you are constantly learning as well. You need to know that we don't expect you to be perfect. To be quite honest, we are oftentimes in awe of the work you do and your dedication to your students. We may be the ones evaluating you and some folks may call themselves "lead-learners", but deep down we know that you are the experts. "

"It is important for you to realize that as the school administrator, we often feel responsible for everything that goes on in the building. This can lead to us spreading ourselves thin or sometimes not giving you the time that you'd like. There are going to be times when we have just left situations in which we were just hit, kicked or screamed at. And you may be the next person we see. While we are going to try our best to always stay positive, there will be times when we slip. Please forgive us when this happens."

"More than anything, we want you to know that we are doing best. Sometimes our best looks awesome. Other times our best doesn't look so hot. Just know that we won't stop trying. Because like you, we are learning and getting better each and every day."

"that sometimes we feel powerless. We want to help, but some things are out of our control. Sometimes we feel helpless. Like when a teacher comes to us to share heartbreaking news about something she is experiencing in her personal life. Or when a hard to reach student is finally beginning to experience small successes and then he tells us he is moving to a new school. Or when parents come to us with legitimate concerns regarding our parking lot, yet those safety concerns stem from other parents not following the expectations or being courteous. This is the hardest part of our job. This is what keep us awake at night."

"that when parents are upset about a tough decision we have made, we wish they would come to us to discuss it rather than turning to social media to complain about it."

"Administrators want to help everyone be successful. They want to help teachers grow, they want to make parents feel welcomed, they want their school to shine and be successful, but their ultimate focus is to provide exceptional learning experiences for students. Every decision that they make is in the best interest of ALL students. Principals don't have agendas for a small group of students, They have to make every decision for ALL students. Principals are people, too. They make mistakes, they have feelings, and while they are charged with working with and meeting the needs of a number of stakeholders, their needs matter, too. It is a lonely seat. Principals need support, encouragement and cheerleaders. When things are going well, everyone wants to be a part. When things are not going so well, the principal is the first to be abandoned. Being a principal is one of the hardest jobs, but it is one of the most rewarding professions."


Are you an administrator in education?  What do you wish more people knew about being an Admin?  Share your thoughts using the #iWishAdmin hashtag and look for the next post in this series (As A Teacher, I Wish You Knew) coming next week!