YES! I DID IT!
Today, August 22, marks my one year anniversary as an administrator. One year under my belt, one year experience as the Director of Student Services for Frankfort Independent Schools.
- One year as a Director of Special Education
- One year as a 504 Coordinator
- One year as an ADA Corrdinator
- One year as a Preschool Director
- One year as a Gifted/Talented Coordinator
- One year as a English Learner Coordinator
- One year as a (whatever else is asked of me LOL)
Yes, I wear all those hats. Why in the world would I take on such a job as my very first administrator experience? Well, I thought getting my start in a small district will ease me into administration. I sure wasn't thinking that...
small district = less people = more hats!
The positive side is that I have had a crash course in multiple facets of administration that I would have never received if I was solely a Director of Special Education.
I am extremely fortunate to be wrapped around by an amazing group of educators and leaders both in and out of FIS. I am learning and growing every day because of the support that I receive. It is an indescribable feeling to be surrounded by people who want you to succeed. Everyone is open and helpful - whether it be related to a simple logistic matter or something more intricate as a personnel issue. Even the teachers are patient with me (for the most part) as I learn the ropes, especially in those areas where I had no previous experience. There are too many people to thank for the immense growth I have made this past year.
As I reflect on this first year, I have discovered a few interesting things about myself.
- I am a great manager. I am able to tackle many tasks and solve multiple problems all in a day's work. I think I may have already known this ;)
- I have a long way to go to be a leader. When I was in Deaf Ed, I was a strong teacher leader. However, I have yet to transition that leadership into my new role. I think the constant feeling of being overwhelmed and still learning my roles has not allowed me to prioritize and be the leader I want to be and know I can be.
- I am terrible at accepting praise. I have never really been one who accepted praise well.
- When I was in Deaf Ed, if I received praise, I would respond that I was just doing my job. I didn't think anything I was doing was extraordinary. It was just what I felt should be done. Yes, I did know I was a master teacher, but I just felt that I was doing what needed to be done.
- Now, in my new role, when I receive praise, I don't believe I deserve it. I think I am so overwhelmed with all my responsibilities and everything I need to do that when praise comes my way, I think it's not genuine, that I didn't do anything worthy of praise. Hopefully, as I develop confidence in my new abilities and continue to grow, I will be able to recognize my own accomplishments and accept the praise.
Intestingly, learning all the aspects of my many hats has not been the hardest part of my new role. I am slowly but surely tackling those and growing because of it.
The hardest aspect of this job is accepting that I am no longer a part of the teacher leader group. I am now "The Man"; I have moved to the "Dark Side." I keep forgetting that I am not a teacher, I am not peers, colleagues, equals, to those educators with whom I work daily. I know in time I will find a balance and figure out exactly where I fit in because I never want the teacher leadership to disappear from my soul.
Many people ask me if I miss Deaf Ed. I was a Teacher of the Deaf for 21 years. Of course, I miss it. However, I know that I made the right decision by moving on. I was stagnant where I was and needed to be in a place where I can grow in new ways and support teachers, students, and systems.
I still stay connected to Deaf Ed. I moderate the monthly #DeafEd Twitter chat. I keep in touch with former students and parents. I have lunch dates with Deaf friends. And, of course, I have continued my obsession with Deaf Ed projects.
During our summer leader institute, we were charged with writing our personal vision statements. Here I share mine.
- I believe that all children deserve a high quality education from teachers who are masters of their content and pedagogy.
- Being in the education field is not a 9-5 job but a lifestyle choice.
- In order to create a Culture of Excellence, we must be able to look beyond the boundaries of minimal compliance and invest the time and energy necessary.
- Find the expertise in those you lead, and empower them to share, support, and lead others
- Teacher voice is crucial to any decisions that are made at the local, state, and national levels. Teachers know, therefore they must be heard.
- All children deserve to have someone in their corner fighting for them.
- I believe that it is important to trust and support the work of my teachers and staff.
- I believe that every person is as equally important to a team.
- School/district teams are like a crew team. Every person must row with the same level of intensity, to achieve a common goal.
- Children are like a box of Fruit Loops cereal. They all come in different colors, shapes and sizes. However, on the inside, they are all made the same and deserve to be treated as such.
So, what will year 2 hold for me?
- I have made it my goal to learn to be more of a leader than a manager.
- I plan to work on building relationships and increasing communication with the staff with whom I work.
- I will never stop my love for Deaf Ed and will continue with the projects brewing in my mind!
Thank you to my superintendent, Dr. Barber, for taking a chance on an inexperienced person to wear so many hats.
Thank you to my husband, Darrell, and children who are sacrificing so much just so I can pursue my career. We have lived apart for one year now. I do hope that at any moment we will be together for more than just the weekends - for forever!