Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Things I've Learned: Admin Edition

I was a classroom teacher for 11 years, then spent six months as a technology coach before I was appointed to my current position as dean of students.  I always knew that administrators had an unforgiving, time-consuming, and demanding schedule.  However, you never really know what a person goes through until you walk in their shoes.  In the two and a half months that I have worked in this job, I have learned so much about what I thought I knew about before.  As I write this, I am enjoying one of the most low-key days that I have had thus far and watching the Detroit Tigers take on the Arizona D-Backs, pondering the things that I have learned and experienced over the past couple of months.  

I'd be a liar if I told you that this
has never been me... 
Every day, I walk into my office and plan out my day.  Usually, that consists of looking at the behavior management and prepping the paperwork on students that need to be addressed for disciplinary reasons, meet with the other two deans, the assistant principal, and the principal to address any pressing concerns, and supervising the common areas of the school as students start trickling in, all while down a bit of coffee, mostly because I enjoy coffee, not because I need it to wake up.  But all plans, even with the best of intentions and preparation, can be blown right out the window as soon as the curveball comes spinning toward the plate.  Parents and/or students will be waiting when you walk into the office, an incident will occur on a bus or on the way to school that will need to be addressed, or you spill your coffee all over your desk (I've only done that once).  Regardless, you have to learn to roll with things and prioritize, especially when you have to start throwing in other responsibilities, such as observing teachers, presiding over committee meetings, and/or shifting responsibilities when your admin team is shorthanded.  

Prior to my appointment, the thing that made me think the most and caused the most anxiety was the thought of having to make numerous phone calls, most of which were going to be of the negative persuasion.  As a person that really does not like talking on the phone, I had to, and still have to at times, psych myself out to make those calls.  I had to learn quickly to have thick skin and to not take things personally when speaking with an upset parent.  While I still dread making calls to certain parents and/or about certain things, I have learned to be a better communicator and not to dwell on those negative calls that are inevitable.  

I have also learned to never make plans to do anything on a weeknight and most Fridays.  Because the hours are not set, the time in which I leave varies greatly.  I have left as early as 4 PM, but I have also stayed as late as almost 10 PM.  Days that are jam-packed with incidents can turn into long days of making phone calls, inputting notes into behavior management, writing emails to set up observations or meetings, meeting as an admin team, and so much more.  Then there are the days where there is an event on campus, such as clubs and sports or school plays.  You can plan to leave by a certain time, but there is no such thing as certainty.  As a teacher, I could almost always leave at a time that allowed me to pick up the kids, go to the gym, etc.  I am a lucky guy to have such an understanding, flexible, and loving wife because otherwise, she would have left me by now.  Even weekends are sometimes filled with school-related events or work to do.  

As unforgiving, time-consuming, and demanding the job has been, I wouldn't trade it for the world; I am thoroughly enjoying my position and look forward to waking up each day to get to "work."  I think back to the administrators in which I have worked with in the past and have gained a greater appreciation for the work that they did.  I appreciate the amazing admin team that I get to work with on a daily basis.  And on a more personal level, the busy lifestyle has helped my depression issues that I addressed in a previous post tremendously; my episodes of shutting down have been minimal, and I credit it to staying busy and keeping my mind off of things that would sometimes cause my bouts of depression.  

Because of how busy I have been, my time to write, tweet, participate in Twitter chats, Voxer chats, etc. has been compromised.  As I am adjusting, I am hoping to carve out more time to be more than a social media lurker and to write more regularly, like the once a week that I was doing for quite a while.  Some very exciting things are coming down the pike, and I can't wait to share my experiences and learning in future posts.  

Until next time...