After two weeks of being completely consumed with the task of figuring out how to teach students while not at school, I have learned so much about myself, my faith, and about my leadership. Who you truly are is revealed in challenging times. I would definitely say these last two weeks have been challenging times.
Listed below are reflections of the past two weeks. I do not share the survival tips because I have this thing figured out (because I certainly do not), but because there are a few things I have learned in the process. This is so new, we all are learning one day at a time.
Routine, Routine, Routine!
It is very important during this time to keep a routine. Your routine may not look the way it did when you actually went to work, but find what works for you remotely and stick to it. I wake up at the same time each day, workout, read my bible and pray, take a shower… then I’m ready for my workday. I highly encourage you to make somewhat of a schedule for your day.
Also, for my teams, I have tried to keep our regular meeting days and times. One team, we usually meet on Mondays at 2:00… we have continued that, but virtually. Of course, if things come up, we will have an emergency meeting, but outside of that, we all know when we’re meeting.
Ignore the Naysayers!
Launching something completely different in the age of social media can be brutal. There are naysayers on every side. I saw a guy who is loved by teachers on Twitter bash remote learning. I saw parents bashing their school and/or district for things not being done the way they think it should be done. Some leaders have even responded in a less-than-perfect way with their teams.
How do you ignore the naysayers? Put your plan in place. Ignore the loud mouths on social media saying you shouldn’t be doing what you are required to do. Give your boss grace when they lash out or don’t recognize the work you’re putting in for the good of the students. Do your best to be there for parents to help them understand the new learning environment. Also, remember for parents, they are scared, anxious, and stressed as well. They now have the responsibility of working from home AND teaching or at minimum, overseeing the learning of their children. At the end of the day, remember you are doing the best you possibly can. Everyone won’t be happy.
Put on your POSITIVE Pants!
This time more than any other, we must stay positive. We must believe we can meet the state expectations that we provide remote learning while also doing what is best for our students. For leaders, this is the time to be positive with your teams. Tell them every chance you get that you appreciate their efforts. You see the long hours they are putting in to put your plan into place. You see their willingness to do whatever is necessary to continue instruction. Negativity during this time will most definitely work against you. The team is already tired and weary… to hear what is not going right will only leave them with feelings of discouragement and feed into the thoughts of just giving up and not even trying.
Summary of this tip… we must believe that we can overcome what looks like an impossible feat. And this leads into the next one….
Remember your WHY!
We must remember our WHY! No, we did not sign up to work for an online school, but that’s where we have found ourselves. What we did sign up for… is to do our very best to provide a high level of education for students. Regardless of the environment, we still must do our very best to do just that.
Self-Care is Key!
Even for the strongest, you can find yourself in some weak moments. We MUST take care of ourselves. I remember there was one day when I felt myself getting overwhelmed. I stopped working, made myself something to eat for lunch, and sat outside to eat. The fresh air was just what I needed for a brain break.
Teamwork makes the dream work!
At the beginning of this year, our district leadership team began studying Brene Brown’s book “Daring Leadership”. One of the first things we talked about were things leaders don’t say enough. The one that resonated with me was “I need help”.
More than ever, now, we must understand the power of teamwork. No one person can carry out this thing. Leaders, don’t be afraid to say that you need help. You have a team for a reason. Don’t be afraid to say you need help and solicit the help of your team members.
For me, the biggest reason I survived the last two weeks is one person…. GOD! I have never been so challenged in my professional career. I have never been in a situation, professionally, where I have had to be so calm. I am naturally not a calm person. I am high-strung and strive for excellence in all that I do; however, in this situation, I couldn’t be high-strung. I prayed each morning and asked for what I have asked for every workday this school year… wisdom and creativity. I truly believe God has heard this prayer for the last 8 months. He has given me wisdom in carrying out a plan and certainly gave me creativity when working with the team to develop the plan.
If you don’t know Him. If you don’t have a personal relationship with Him, there is no better time than now.
Fellow educators, you are awesome. You are creative. You are capable. You are mentally strong. WE CAN DO THIS!
March signifies so many things, but to students, it means SPRING BREAK! Many students look forward to the week off from school. No waking up early, no sitting in classrooms all day, no homework, and no exams. Well, guess what? Educational leaders should be just as excited!
This week is a great chance to clear your mind. The hustle and bustle of leadership can be tough on the mind, body, and soul… and there is only so much stress one can handle. Some leaders have a difficult time taking a break. For those leaders, I challenge you to at least take a half week to rest and relax. No emails. No planning. No reports. Instead, try a few of the activities below.
How do you plan to spend your Spring Break?
It’s hiring season and this brings about a lot of anxiety, nervousness, and for some, major frustration. Searching for a job is a job in itself, but there are some people who have been on countless interviews and are at a place of major frustration. The question is, how do I know when it’s time to stop looking and try something else?”
This is a difficult question, but one that is commonly asked. There are many educators who find it challenging to land that first counselor, instructional coach, and/or assistant principal job. Attending more than 5 interviews and never landing the job can get daunting. I’m going to answer the question with a series of questions.
Did you put in the work to prepare for interviews?
Does your resume accurately portray your skills and talents?
Does your cover letter explain how you are an asset to the new company?
When you interview, do you answer the questions they ask?
During the interview, do you carry yourself with confidence?
Honestly answer those questions. If there is a “no” to any of the questions, I am here to help! My services are as follow:
Individual Training Sessions
I will be offering individual training sessions on general information concerning the job search. We will either meet via phone conference (FaceTime or webinar), whichever is most convenient for you..
How to STAND OUT Part 1 ($25 for 1 hour)
During this training, we discuss how to make your resume and cover letter stand out. We also discuss how to make a great impression during the interview process.
Resume Review ($25 for an additional hour added to the How to Stand Out Part 1 session)
For the additional hour, the coach will review the resume and offer recommendations on revisions.
How to STAND OUT Part 2 ($25 for 1 hour)
This session will be a follow up to Part 1. During this training, we will have mock interviews, practicing on each other. The coach will facilitate the mock interviews and offer feedback.
Personal Coaching ($50/hour)
The personal coaching cycle is most effective when there are at least (2) 2-hour sessions. The first session focuses on your specific industry. We discuss how they ask questions and what employers are looking for in your answers. We discuss a few questions as the coach supports the client in the process. The second session is a full mock interview. The client arrives dressed for an interview and the coach becomes the interviewer. The client goes through a full interview with no coaching. The interview is recorded and shared with the client. After the interview is completed, the coach offers feedback. A few additional questions are asked with coaching provided during the process.
To schedule an individual training session or personal coaching session, click below.
How to Stand Out Part 1
This session focuses on how to stand out with your resume, cover letter, and at the interview. This session will be delivered via telephone conference, FaceTime, or webinar at a time that is convenient for you.
How to Stand Out Part 2
This session will focus on how to stand out in the interview process. This session will take place face to face, unless the client would prefer FaceTime or webinar.
This personal coaching session will include individual support on answering interview questions. To be effective, these sessions are best when the client schedules (2) 2-hour sessions.
Springtime in the state of Texas means the last push before the state assessment. Districts all over the state right now are giving students a released STAAR test from a previous year. This data tells teachers and administrators whether students are prepared for the “big test”.
This “crunch time” can be one of the most stressful times in education. You have your most reliable data in terms of how your students will perform on the state test. When you look at the data, and if it is not where you would like for it to be, there are two ways you can respond.
As hard as it may be, you should choose option two. Freak out at home. Freak out in your car on the drive home. Freak out in your office after everyone has left the building. Freak out for a bit and then get to work. Create a plan on how to get the students prepared in the 6-8 weeks you have left. Go before your team with confidence that you have a strong plan. Go before your team with great hope that together, as a team, you will reach your goal. This is the time where you show your true leadership skills. And if (or when) fear creeps in, remember, STAY CALM AND LEAD ON!
Paula Patterson is a former principal who shares practical points on the principalship.