The start of a new school year is upon us. Some districts began last week, some started today, and others will start later this week or next week. For me, the start of this school year has been different because I am no longer working at the campus level. Today was different for me, but in a good way. Let me explain.
My wife started her day with the expected butterflies and anxiety of the first day of school. She worked much of weekend to make sure that the first day of school as just right for her students. We exercised this morning and we made sure that she left the house in plenty of time to be ahead of the traffic that is sure to be full of anxious students and nervous parents. Normally I am right on her heels out the door, but not today.
I probably left the house at about the same time I normally do on normal day, but it was not super early to make sure the building was ready for kids on the first day of school. I probably drove with the same level of alertness that I normally drive, but I did not have the anxiety that I normally have on the first day of school. This first day was different.
Now don’t misunderstand, I was nervous for all of the schools in my district. Today 18 campuses opened with over 13,000 students experiencing their first day. I spent most of the day driving to campuses and by the end of the day I had visited two thirds of our campuses. Principals were excited. Teachers and kids were smiling. Everyone was learning about each other and the new routines and procedures of the new school year. It was a good day.
I was nervous because I wanted the day to go well for everyone. I did not want to hear anything negative occurring at any of the 18 campuses. My perspective has changed.
As a principal, I was nervous for the 900+ students and ~ 90 staff members that I worked with each day. I did not ever really worry about the other campuses because I had my hands full with my school. Today, I found that I was nervous for everyone to have a great day. Maybe it is because I have even less control because I am now one more step away from the classroom….one more step away from being able to support kids directly...one more step away from being able to problem solve when problems arise.
As a principal I was not one for total control because I know that is not sustainable in the long term. I am not changing my feelings now because I know that my district has great people and they are going to be excellent in their work, but the nervousness is still there, just different. It’s hard to explain fully. Maybe that is because I am still trying to understand all that I am feeling. I will continue to reflect upon that.
For now, please know that being in central office does not remove the feelings we have about school and our desire for great things to occur. Our perspective has changed. Our feeling may not be the same as they were when we were side by side with the kids, but they are still there. The best way I know to describe right now is to say it is a new nervousness.
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