I’m lying in bed and watching the blades of my ceiling fan spin.
As my eyes rotate with the fan the same question continues to repeat itself in my mind...How?
As a campus principal, how do I ensure we are reaching the entire student body? How do we create an educational experience that is individualized to the needs of every child?
There are only so many hours in a day for a teacher...in those hours they have to plan, assess, analyze, manage, support, care for, adjust, change, create, and ensure every child gets what he or she needs. So much to do, so little time.
It’s 1:17 a.m.
I am sitting on the edge of my bed staring at the clock in front of me...thinking...thinking… How? What’s the answer? How do we reach every single child?
Is the answer programs? A one-size-fits-all program?
No, would never work. Our kids range from non-readers to gifted and talented all in the same room. There isn’t one program that will reach every child…
Maybe if I change the schedule, maybe if I change the routine, maybe if I can grow our parental involvement, maybe if we adjust our positive behavioral supports...maybe...
It’s 1:21 a.m.
I am now pacing back and forth as the faces of my teachers begin to flash across my mind’s eye. Classroom, special education, specialists...The faces of the amazing people who are working so hard each day to try and answer the questions that keep me up at night. The people who give everything they have...every single day, to each other, their kids, and to me.
The truth of the matter reaches me in the early morning hours...there is only one answer to the question: How do we create an educational experience that is individualized to the needs of every child? That answer...love, support, and trust my outstanding teachers.
I could create the best schedule, invite the most parents, buy the most expensive software, even provide the best professional development money could buy - all good things...yet, if my teachers are not successful, if my teachers aren’t willing to take risks in the name of reaching everyone, if my teachers aren’t willing to plan effectively...well, than in the end every child won’t be successful.
Love, support, trust - repeat. These are the key ingredients to the question that keeps me up at night…
This is my second year of being a principal - I have made mistakes and have taken risks… For some, this would be seen as a recipe for disaster. Yet, I work with a community of teachers that all share the same passion and the same desire...we want our kids to be successful.
Love. I tell my teachers I love them. That’s right, I said it...love. We don’t hear that often in education. Well, actually we do, all the time...we hear it in classrooms all over. Our teachers tell their students they are loved, they are cared for, they matter. Why shouldn’t teachers receive the same sentiment back? The parallel couldn't be more perfect...as much as my teachers love their kids, I love them.
Support. From supporting the risk a teacher wants to take, to providing that much-needed professional development, support comes in many different forms. Regardless of how it is provided, our teachers need to know they are supported. I have their back, I am in their corner, and I want the best for them. I might raise the bar high, but I will help them reach it in anyway I can.
Trust. In all honesty this is the hardest one for me. For a long time I lived by the idea: I will trust you once you show me I can. This of course means I didn’t trust anyone at first...in essence, a recipe for a negative school culture. It was my first year in administration, in middle school no less, when my principal modeled and demonstrated something I have tried so hard to embody. She gave trust freely, and it stayed there until proven no longer possible. It was the opposite of what I knew, yet was the most freeing idea that I have come to believe in. I trust my teachers, all of them. I trust they are here for our kids, trust they are doing all they can, and trust they understand they are an important part of something larger than themselves.
It’s 1:32 a.m.
I lay back down - close my eyes, and for the first time, in a long time, I am able to sleep.