Today was a day of collaboration for the middle school principals in Rowan-Salisbury Schools. It was an opportunity for us to collaborate as a group as the summer begins to wind down (um, yeah, summer is more than half over for us!). It was especially important since our principal team added two new members with another on the way. Dr. Dixon and I have only been there for one year so the group as a whole is a newer team. Opportunities like this are rare and we had a great day for sure!
One of the activities had us thinking about what “super power” we would choose to have as a school principal if someone we could actually have a super power. We were given time to think about it and then had to share with a partner and then the group. In this post and the next two posts we will both share what we choose for our super power and why and then talk about what our combined super power would be if we could choose one as a team.
I was intrigued when we were told what we would be doing. I think most of us have thought about this type of thing before but now I had to really focus it in the context of being a school principal. There are so many super powers one needs when trying to lead a school! How can I just pick one? I thought it over and changed my mind several times. One of the first ones I settled on was invisibility. Now that might seem odd but let me explain. There is often much more to a school than meets the eye. There are multiple layers of things going on and a school leader has to be able to decipher all of it. There are things out in the open, there are things hiding beneath the surface, and things that seem to be one thing while in reality they are something completely different. It is one of the toughest jobs of a principal – being able to navigate all of these complex layers of human behavior in order to get a true reading of what is happening at the school.
Since Dr. Dixon and I are only starting our second year at our school we are still in the process of building trust. I think some of the adults in the building trust us but I am sure there are others that do not yet. We also realize it is always a work in progress and trust building is one of our top jobs. Since I think trust is the first and most important ingredient to school success I thought the ability to somehow see “below, behind, above and under” the surface might be helpful. It would give me a way to really see what is going on and if our school was really focused on our goals. This is a tweet I sent out yesterday.
Trust is the prerequisite. Without it, collaboration is impossible. Trust has to be developed first. Much like with students #educoach
— Mike Waiksnis (@mwaiksnis) July 16, 2015
The more I thought of the invisibility thing the more felt like it was a negative super power to pick. I thought it sent the message of being a sneaky type action so I thought deeper about my yet to be solidified super power. My thoughts quickly turned to the super power I settled on – being able to give all adults in the building the ability to make kids realize how much they cared about them as children and their success in school and life. We know all too well how critical this is for our kids. If they do not feel (and know) we care about them as people and their success little else will matter. We could present the best lessons, given mind-blowing learning activities and so on, but if many kids do not feel you care about them it will fall on deaf ears. Is this how it “should be”? Probably not, but we know that is the reality. The kids have to know we care about them before anything else. If there was a way I could guarantee all of our kids felt cared for by the adults in the building that would be my superpower. It would allow us to focus on our goals and help our kids realize their true potential.