This week has been a week of deep reflection for me. Every one of us goes through periods where we doubt our gifts, where we wonder if the place we find ourselves in is the place we’re best suited. And for whatever reason I’ve always felt that February is by far the most difficult month of the school year. It’s that period where we’re over the Christmas Break honeymoon, spring break looms around the corner but so does testing, and the kids (and adults) can sometimes act like it’s their first time ever in a school setting.
It wears on us, it tears us apart. I know I am so blessed to work at a campus with 81 staff members. I work hard to connect with each of them, to spend time in each of their spaces. I know I could do it better, we always could. I know I am blessed to work at a campus with over 750 students. I work hard to get to know each of them, to spend some face to face time connecting with each of them. I know I could do better, I always can.
I was informed in late December and early January, by several staff, that this year they felt under appreciated. They felt like I could be doing a better job to bring us all together. That I could do much better at providing feedback. That I could be more encouraging. That I could find more ways to recognize more staff. And you know what? They were right. And that kind of feedback keeps me growing. It led to me (and the rest of the admin team) sending emails every time we do a 10-15 min walkthrough to give more consistent feedback. It led to the creation of a weekly workout, weekly bible study, and a monthly staff get together. And it’s helped me adjust other ideas I’ve had too.
When I took a position as a principal, I had high hopes. I wanted to be the best there ever was. And though I am not anywhere near where I want to be, I still work at it. I look at Webb and the growth we’ve seen over the last two years. The decrease in ISS/OSS placements, the increase in males being involved on campus, the increase in love for reading, the staff retention, and more. I’m so proud of our work. Of the work everyone has done, because this is by NO means a reflection of me or my leadership. Everything this campus accomplishes is because of the hard work they all put in.
The one thing I never expected when taking a principal position was the constant barrage of anger, disappointment, and frustration. I want to be very careful how I express this because I LOVE my job and am not complaining by any means. One thing I never knew as a teacher, that I now know as a principal, is that every day no matter how scheduled and organized I am, is filled with unexpectedness. On a daily basis I have several parents who tell me how I am the worst leader, I have staff who come in to tell me what I need to fix and how I should be doing things better, I have upper administration who reprimand me for making a decision I felt was best for kids, I have students who are hurt and lashing out, I have the state asking me to do more or making sure we’re on the right track, and more.
I look at the work left to do before me and at times it feels overwhelming. It feels too much. I feel I’m not qualified enough, that someone could do it better. That someone else should be doing my job.
It’s one of the reasons I really don’t like winning awards or being recognized for things. I know I am not “the best”. I know I have a lot of work to do to even be half of what I want to be.
I am always looking at growth. I push all of my team to keep growing and trying. I see the hard work they’re putting in and I’m blown away every day that I get to even share the same building space as them. They are the game changers, they are the rockstars, and I am the one who is here just to clear the path for them and carry some of their load so they can shine brighter.
I don’t share this story as a “woe is me” moment. I share this to let you know that every one of us deals with doubt. I love my school so much and want to create the best environment for these kids because they deserve it. They have enough going wrong in many of their lives that they deserve to come into a building filled with love and the best education ever.
So when it seems too much, when you wonder if you were meant for this, take a moment to look down. Look down into the eyes of the children we serve every day. And remember, you may be the only adult in their life who shows up every day for them.