Does your personal schedule and use of time reflect your priorities within the school’s vision and mission?
As a new administrator the sky is the limit. There is so many possibilities and each situation is a learning opportunity. In leadership training, we are taught to follow the mission and vision of the school and district. With that vision and mission looming overhead the question often becomes, what exactly does that look like for an administrator or teacher? Often times I believe leaders miss the opportunity to follow the mission and vision in daily decision making. It is not always the big decisions that can transform and move a school district in the right direction.
July 1 of my first year as an administrator I sat down and looked at my calendar and realized it was blank. The ideas and projects that I wanted to accomplish in my first year were abundant and at that moment I felt like I had the time to dream. I had the time to analyze data and outcomes and align my overarching goals with the mission and vision of the district. At the end of the day, I wanted to make things great for kids and their families.
Fast forward to August 1 of the same year. My calendar is jam packed and the beginning of the school year hits me like a tidal wave. Wait, maybe more like a tsunami. Suddenly I’m trying to manage day to day tasks just making deadlines and trying to put out fires. I began to realize my duties and responsibilities of the job and the ideas I had only a month ago seem so impossible. What was taking up all of my time? How did I go from feeling like I was on top of the mountain to feeling like I still had a mountain to climb? This is when I had to analyze my priorities and my time management. I realized that while email is important, that is not the priority work that needed to be done. I could not lead change through email alone and real work needed to be started.
What happened to the vision and mission of the district? What happened to making things great for kids and their families? In reality even in the busiest of times, I had to learn to make decisions with the vision and mission in mind. It is not just a proclamation you make at the first staff meeting and then forget. It needs to be present in the decisions and actions of the day to day tasks. This ideas has given me more freedom to tackle things in a different manner and I’ve learned that having white space on your calendar is okay. I’m learning that you have to set aside time to plan and focus on being sure that the path you choose is taking you to the correct direction. Don’t underestimate the power to dream.
Melissa Geyman is a Director of Special Education in Northern Illinois. Prior to becoming a director, Melissa worked as a teacher of the visually impaired serving children age 3-21.