NPC17-Reflection

The National Principals Conference in Philly came at the perfect time for me. I recently completed my certification as a superintendent and had been trying to find a central office job. Unsuccesfully. I felt like I wasn’t good enough as I was passed over for two positions and not even considered for several others. Maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought I was.

At the last minute I decided to attend NPC 17. Mainly because it was close to home and also because I felt like I needed a break from the office. I was beyond surprised by how inspirational the three days were. Over the passed few years I had focused on technology conferences – PETE and C and ISTE. Turns out what I needed was a kick in the pants from my tribe. Most everyone in every room was a principal. WE all had some semblance of what was going on in each others’ lives. Many connections were instantaneous. No one had to warm up to other people because we were all in the same boat.

In my professional life I have moved around a good bit. First between teaching jobs and then pushing up the administrative ladder. I always felt as though I had made the decision to move on because I had given all that I had. NPC17 in many ways proved my thoughts to be incorrect. Upon reflection it seems that I was leaving those positions because I was scared. Not fearful necessarily but scared to push the envelope a little bit more. There are great leaders out there doing amazing things. I wasn’t and still am not being truly amazing for my people.

When I was reflecting on my admin career while in Philly I remembered all the great ideas that I had when I started as an assistant principal. I made some pretty amazing connections with parents, students and staff. Even when I became a principal I was full of passion. I wanted to do this right and impact my community. Recently I have allowed myself to be content. To be lazy. To stop pushing the envelope.

That ends this year. People are probably going to think I went around the bend. It’s going to be tough to make a pretty big change after being the same guy for eight years but it must be done. I need to bring the passion back for myself but more importantly I owe it to my students, my teachers and my community.

Thank you to everyone who attended NPC 17. I was inspired greatly by so many that I won’t even try to list.

Do Principals Have to Work in the Summer?

As an administrator, I’m always getting the age old question, “What do you do all summer?” It tends to irritate me that people feel I have to justify my summer work but I usually do it any way. I guess in some way I feel I need to. If you are an administrator you know what I mean. You also know that it is long days without much interaction especially in July when anyone else working tends to take vacation. Unfortunately summer tends to be my least favorite part of the year generally because of the lack of collegiality.

This summer I am trying to be a more productive leader. For me in the past summer as been like this: June – catch up on everything that you let go at the busy end of the year and begin looking at test scores, July – take some vacation time, August – begin preparations for the new year. Not always that cut and dry but those are the basics. My wife, the teacher, calculates it like this: June = Friday, July = Saturday, August = Sunday. If you’re a teacher that will make sense.

This summer I tried offering some professional development but it was poorly received. Basically many reasons for that chiefly that I couldn’t require attendance and I had nothing to offer in exchange – no Act 48, no money, no exchange. I also have set aside an hour at the beginning of every day to explore my PLN, catch up on professional reading, and generally try to become a better leader.

My question to all of the educators out there: How do you spend your summer? Please don’t tell me “at the beach” because I might just cry!