As I sit here on the lovely beach of Cape May NJ, I can only escape work briefly, as school starts for me in little under two weeks. As a new Superintendent, my mind is going in several different directions, but after listening to the girls behind me talking about how in their first teaching position are going to change the world in a 5 lessons, I thought about things to avoid doing for the first year. Here are my mistakes I’ve either seen from teachers and administrators, or perhaps even did myself that all educators should avoid the first year:
image credit: whitneycpbg.com
1. Realize that it’s OK to fail. Yes, you read it right, IT IS OKAY TO FAIL. FAIL = first attempt in learning. I’ve seen way too many teachers and administrators take out their pitfalls and shortcoming on themselves. Why do this to yourself? Not every lesson will go right, not every parent conversation will end with the smell of roses in the air, and not every schedule or policy you implement will go as planned. You tweak as you go, you reflect you grow. Casting yourself as a failure will only lead to burnout… and… ‘aint nobody got time for that.’
2. You’re not Superman. I’m not trying to take the air out of your balloon (or perhaps, give you kryptonite), but I’ve seen far too many teachers coming in ready to turn the world upside down and end up crying in their rooms everyday after school about two weeks later. I don’t want you to lose that energy, but I don’t want to blow you up with false hope either. Yes, you will make a difference. Yes, you will be that game changer. Will you get everything you want and do it all within the first marking period? Nope. And that’s OK Don’t take it personally. You will have challenges; you will have some bad days… everybody does. It’s called being normal.
3. You can play McGyver and fix everything, but also seek output from your peers. Again, first year folks come in and want to change it all by themselves. While I love your desire to change for the better, your peers may not. You need to make allies your first year; seek out other peers for help. Doing it all alone will make you look like a lone wolf amongst your peers, and could even isolate you. Who wants that?!?
image credit: www.edudemic.com
4. Expand your PLN online. If you’re reading this, you’re most likely on Twitter. I would hope you know the benefits of the online PLN, and how it grows more and more everyday. Keep yourself fresh, and join those online conversations. It doesn’t have to be all of the time, but chime in and collect new resources. It’s amazing how the PLN cane mold you as an educator.
image credit: bloggingcapemay.blogspot.com
5. Take time for yourself. Especially for my Administrative rookies, you need to be cognizant of your outside life and family. This job can easily consume your life… don’t let it. Enjoy your family, friends, and life. Papers will get graded, plans will get made, and conferences will get set. It will always work out in the end… and don’t forget that.
But, hey, I’m just a Superintendent now, what do I know?
Now… about that beach…