Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Admin 101: My first year as an Administrator

Tomorrow is graduation. Next Thursday is the last day of school. Next week will also be my last day of my first year as an administrator.  It was just one year ago this week that I was hired on and met my new staff for the very first time.  How did this year go by so quickly? 

I am an assistant principal in a school with 1750 students. I am one of five administrators in the building, and we have a staff of roughly 150 certified and classified staff.  We have 7 great counselors and two awesome school resource officers with whom we work very closely. Most importantly, we have 6 wonderful administrative assistants who keep the building running, and make sure the real work is getting done. We also have a pretty awesome group of teachers and students as well!

Recently, I've been asked by several people to describe my first year as an administrator. As I thought more and more about the question, it became increasingly difficult to find the right words to describe the job of an administrator. Every day is an adventure for me. Every day is a learning opportunity for me. Every day I experience something I have never experienced before...

I am fortunate to have daily discussions with both colleagues and students about what we are doing to help improve student success. These discussions offer great opportunities for me to listen and learn, as well as to share my experiences that have helped shape me as an educator.

I greet students every morning starting around 6:45 a.m. until around 7:30 a.m.. In my opinion, this is one of the most important and essential parts of my day. I don't get much "real" work done during this time, but the ability to say "good morning" to both students and teachers on a daily basis is absolutely HUGE!

Once I do a quick check-in with teachers I normally get back to my office around 7:45 a.m. to actually start the day. Sometimes I come to find a clear desk, while other times I come to find a desk full of notes to return parent phone calls, and/or deal with disciplinary issues that happened between kids arriving to school and getting dismissed to class (you'd be surprised at what can happen in such a short time frame).

From around 7:45 a.m. until about 11:15 a.m. I do anything and everything... and I do mean anything that you could imagine or think of happening in a school. If there is any part of my day when I actually have a little control of what I do, it would be during this part of the day.  Meetings, hallway duty & conversations with students, classroom observations/visits, discipline, more phone calls... you get the gist, right?
11:15 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. is dedicated to lunch supervision. We have one lunch shift and although we have a lot of students eating on campus, we are an open campus and therefore have less than 1750 eating at school. 
Immediately following lunch supervision to the end of the day is probably the busiest time of the day for me. Upon returning to the office after lunch duty, I deal with anything and everything that happened during the lunch window. Very rarely do I return to my office after lunch with a clear desk. On most occasions I spend the next two hours catching up and dealing with issues that arise before the end of the day.

From 2:00 p.m. until about 2:20 p.m. I supervise student dismissal. This is also another time of the day when no "real" work gets done, but I find it to be a crucial piece of the day that can't go undone.

2:20 p.m. until about 3:00 p.m., or so, is having teacher conversations, returning parent phone calls, and trying to tie up any loose ends from the day.

On a side note, bathroom breaks are few and far between, and I eat my lunch whenever there is a break in the action...sometimes that even means eating at 9:25am or even 2:45pm.  It really just depends.

My evenings are used to write and respond to emails, as well as to make parent phone calls. Additionally, there are evenings that require me to do sports and activities supervision. Most days end with me being both physically and mentally exhausted. Can you see why I need to recharge my batteries with a few moments of piece & quiet after I tuck my own kiddos into bed?

Though the days are long and the job is difficult, I thoroughly enjoy and love my job. Despite the times of stress and frustration, I find my job to be quite rewarding. On a daily basis I get to work with great students and great colleagues, and because of that we are able to make a difference in the lives of our students. Being an administrator is about being a team and having an even bigger impact on the lives of students and staff than I did when I was a classroom teacher.

As much as my heart is still in the classroom, I can't imagine ever going back now...

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