I had my first big meeting of the new school year this week (1 down and only 800 bazillion to go).
The start of meeting season means two things. One, I had to iron my dress clothes and two, I saw the brand new crop of first year principals.
I don’t know which circumstance made me feel worse. The wearing of a suit and tie did break my streak of 76 consecutive days of wearing shorts (oh, how I love the summer), but the “deer in the headlights” look that new principals have in their eyes always makes me nostalgic (and of course by nostalgic, I mean sad).
As I continue to fumble around with writing this blog, certain subjects come up over and over. New administrators seem to be one of them. Lucky for me it seems very appropriate since a high percentage of this blog’s readers seem to be new administrators.
I guess that makes sense. I seldom meet a reader of this blog who is over 50 years old (if you are, email me and you may officially be named The Oldest Reader… quite an honor don’t you think?… Plus you may receive parting gifts and the game version of PrincipalsPage.com).
Just like students, the new principals seem to get younger each year. It is like the school districts are hiring sophomores to run their buildings.
I remember when I was a new administrator… and young… but just barely, because the mind is not as sharp as it used to be.
The newbie’s are so excited to begin their career in educational administration. And scared to death.
How can I be so sure?
The glazed over look in their eyes always gives it away. And as someone who had that look, I feel qualified to comment on it.
Pure and simple. It is fear.
Fear of new responsibilities, teachers, parents, students, school board meetings, supervision, speaking in public, evaluating staff, addressing employees… you name it and it makes them nervous. Really nervous.
But the good news is that if you are lucky that feeling passes. At least a little. I don’t think as an administrator you ever completely shake it.
Another quality of a first year administrator: Fast talking. That always blows their covers as a rookie. First year administrators forget to breathe when they speak. They are so focused on spewing everything out just to “get it over with” often forgetting their audience doesn’t understand a word they say. The blue facial tint (could be fear, could be lack of oxygen, could be a sign of snug fitting pantyhose or too tightly knotted tie… who knows) of a first year administrator is a sure give away.
By the second year in the job, these feelings go down by about 50%… so at least you have that going for you.
If you are a new administrator my advice hasn’t changed (or grown in value). Run.
Like the wind.
And don’t look back.
And I don’t mean from the job. I mean for the job.
Exercise. A lot. And don’t make the excuse that you don’t have time.
Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. It is just how you prioritize them.
Make exercise a priority for yourself, your family, and your school. Get up early if you need to.
A half hour a day will do you good and everyone around you will benefit.
And if that doesn’t work. Run.
From the job. There is no shame in hiding in your office, sitting in the corner in a fetal position, and rocking back and forth.
We have all been there (not really, I am just trying to lift your spirits if things go horribly wrong for you).
The good news is that when you survive the first year (and you will, especially if you exercise), you can attend a meeting and stare at the new crop of 2009 administrators.
And you too will recognize that glazed look in their eyes.