Saturday, September 7, 2013

I Thought I knew, but I had no Idea

As I wrap up the fourth week of my administrative career, I want to share my experiences up to this point. These are the experiences of a new high school administrator in the state of Iowa.  The best phrase I have found to sum up my experience is: “I thought I knew, but I had no Idea!” 

At this point, I cannot help but relate back to my first year of teaching.  I entered the classroom with eight weeks of lesson plans and ideas to change the world.  I quickly learned that my perceptions of the classroom were quite different than the reality!  I had to pitch all eight weeks of lessons and start over from scratch.  I had to develop my ideas and philosophies one day at a time.  Did my teacher preparation program fail me?  Did my student teaching experience not reflect that of a true classroom?  The answer is no, but I thought I was the next best thing and having to start over was a big gut check. 

I know I always have room to grow and will continually attempt to do my best, but I now realize my perceptions of administration were a bit off as well.   Although I did fill-in when our admin was out of the building in the past and I had a wonderful mentor through my admin program, my ideas of what the position required were beyond the scope of the textbook and internship of any program.  I thought I knew, but I had no idea…

1.  Students...they used to like to see me.    Most do still enjoy my company, but to some my mere presence can create an uncomfortable experience.  I now represent discipline; I am now the bad guy, with me, comes consequences.   The conversations with students are different now, but in any conversation the outcomes are the same; doing what is best for students.    The great part is there are cases where you represent hope and light. Poor choices will always accompany teenagers, but luckily I now get to help in the guidance of better choices.

2.  Decisions, decisions, decisions.  Wow!  You do make many decisions as a classroom teacher and each and every one of those is very important.  As an administrator you make hundreds of decisions each and every day.  Administrators make decisions about students, teachers, discipline, curriculum, schedules, activities, athletics, PD, community connections, etc.  I enjoy making decisions but I feel I continually question whether the decision was the best one.  Will it have the intended impact?  Will it produce the desired results?  Rest assured, at least in my case, very few decisions are made in isolation and each are made with the best intentions of the district, teachers, and students.

3.  Schedule, what schedule? As a classroom teacher you have a bell schedule that runs the days and changes your experiences from class to class.   There are many unknowns within those time frames, but whenever that bell rings you are assured your schedule will be back in tact.  As an administrator I have quickly learned the only known part of your day is the start.  You hear the bell and have plans to get to this and to that, but there is no for sure you will get to your plans as scheduled.  You do your best to maintain what you set forth as you need to respect people’s time, but in all reality you have no idea what you are going to walk into and where you are going to encounter each day. 

4.  Social Media…what is its role in Education?  This could be a blog post in itself, but I really think students need to be educated in the true purpose of social media.  What is the true purpose?  I am not for sure I have the answer, but students could use this communication tool in a much more positive nature (@westhighbros).  At this point, I feel I have a daily conversation about appropriate usage and why this is not an appropriate place to handle our issues.  I know our admin team covered this in our welcome back and students do learn as they progress through their years, but it bothers me students air their laundry for the world to see. 

5.  You are a spectator, but duty calls.  As a high school administrator, you no longer attend high school sporting events as a spectator.  You do, but if a situation arises you may miss some, half, or most of the event. Your interactions range from conflict resolution to catching up with old friends.  In some cases, this may be a blessing, but it is interesting to try and reflect on the event you were at and realize you cannot as you did not see much of what you had intended.

I am in no way complaining about any components of my job as I truly love what I do!  I get out of bed every day excited and ready to come to work.  I love the wide variety and unforeseen nature of my role. I love working with students in this capacity as I can impact a much wider scope of students; I am no longer bound by the walls of my classroom. I also love who I work with and appreciate their kindness and willingness to assist me as I learn the requirements of my new role (Jimmy Casas - @casas_jimmy, Joy Kelly - @joykelly05, Kristy Cleppe - @kriscleppe, Kevin Skillett - @krskillett). I write this blog, informative in nature, for those questioning whether they want to become a high school administrator.