First Week of School!

The first week of school has come and gone.  On Monday I finally got to meet and work with teachers in the building during an afternoon session.  It came and went.  The best part is I was able to begin putting faces with names.  Granted I still had very limited knowledge on who was who and what grade they were teaching this year.

Tuesday rolled around, which ended up being the longest day of the week due to Open House in the evening.  Even though it was a long day there still seemed like there was very little time to prepare the building and assist teachers.  Enrollment happened one week earlier and parents were still coming in to enroll. Teachers were trying to make everything personalized for their students and they had to continue to check the roster for updates throughout the day.  During Open House it came to our attention the one particular classroom had a parent who had been physically assaulted by another fifteen years earlier.  The assaulted parent was terrified for the students  and their safety.  The parent requested special permission to drop off late and pick up.

On Wednesday the day before school, we discuss the concern with the director of student services.  We came up with a couple of options for the parent.  The first was to move the student in the other classroom.  The second was a guaranteed transfer by the district as long as the other parent had a child in the building.  Talking with the parent it was clear the trauma that was endured and now reliving it.  The parent choose to take the transfer and transport their student to another school.  I felt for the parent as we had identified the student as one that we needed to keep a close eye on, and were looking forward to the opportunity to work with the student and parent.  I am glad that the option was available.  Later in the day another parent arrived who was unhappy with a principal from another school district.  The principal recommended holding back a student on a behavioral IEP.  The parent wanted the student to move on from Kindergarten to first grade.  We both felt for the parent and the building principal explained the process for out of district transfer while I observed and played with the student.  From my observations it was apparent that the student had a very creative imagination and was on the go constantly, as well as talking non-stop.  After speaking with the parent we decided to follow up and talk with the SPED directors to get a feel if we should move forward in taking the out-of-district transfer request.  Upon mentioning the name of the student to the SPED director, she told us she just talked to the director of student services about the student as a request had been made to attend another school in the district.  At this point we were out as the parent was not open about the individuals she had already spoken to.

Thursday was the first day of school for students.  The first day of school is always great as the school feels whole again.  It was an amazing day that came and went.  With such a awesome staff the day went like any other “normal” school day.  The kindergarten students were excited while mom and dad struggled to watch their baby go to school.  The sixth graders walked around with pride and joy knowing that it is their last year here at the school.  I spent the day trying to get to know as many students as possible, which is an overwhelming task.  The major hiccup of the day was at the end of the day with the busses.  The district hires out a bussing service to transport students who require bussing for special needs and safety.  The company did not produce a bussing list for us or notify parents when or where students would be picked up.  We took it with a grain of salt and created a list of students who rode the bus.  We were amazed as we had no phone calls or students get on the wrong bus.  I attribute this to the caring students and bus drivers, who do work for another company, caring for the safety of the students.  By the end of the day I was worn out, but decided to take the time to spoil the family by cooking steak for dinner to celebrate our first day in our new district.

Friday was quiet for the most of the morning up until lunch when things started to develop.  A second grader who got upset about a choice during PE decided to throw equipment around and then walked out to their designated quiet space.  At the time everything appeared to be going well.  During lunch a new batch of kindergartens quickly alerted us to some special needs.  Two students could not clearly verbalize their needs, and a third was sensitive to noise and refused to eat.  These three kindergarten students are high on my list to work with and get a plan together to help them be successful.  The rest of the afternoon went well until the last thirty minutes when my second grade friend began throwing and tearing up his classroom.  We were called down to the classroom to assist and were able to have the student leave the classroom.  Upon leaving the student went to the foyer airlock and began kicking and pounding on the glass doors.  Not being officially Mandt trained in the district I took an observational role and listened in on the principal talking to the student.  After about five minutes we decided to trade off and I was given the suggestions of providing the student non-preferred items of a puzzle, squishy blue toy, or silly putty in the designated quiet space to calm down.  After we both walked away I went back and talked to the student about using the items.  The student was intrigued by the idea of the squishy blue toy.  Student asked what would happen if they did not like the toy, and I said we can figure it, but you first have to make it to the quiet spot to even see if you like it.  I had the student hooked and we walked down to the quiet spot next to my office.  Upon feeling and pulling the toy the student said I don’t like it.  What else you got?  Quickly I found the silly putty, which had not even been opened and told the student they would be the first to use.  I asked if they would like to open and quickly the student did.  The student was fascinated by the putty and quickly calmed down.  After about ten minutes in the room we walked back down to the classroom to assist in cleaning up the room.  The classroom teacher already took the time to clean up the room.  The student was polite and told the teacher thank you and asked if there was anything that could be cleaned or put away.  To watch a child throw a major fit, then turn around and be the sweetest kid is weird, amazing, heartbreaking, etc.  My description does not do it justice for what I witnessed.  I look forward to working with students who do not know how to handle themselves and make them a better person.

Day One

After sixteen years as a classroom teacher I made the transition to a building administrator or as many of my mentors have jokingly called the “dark side”.

Today was my first “official” day as a school administrator, specifically an elementary assistant principal. As I was walking out for the day I was asked by one of the central office staff how my day went it. I responded with, “It went as expected for any day you sit through a meeting.” Which got me a little laugh. Meetings are more difficult when you return from summer break, especially when it’s the first thing one does before reporting to the building.

I feel fortunate to have many colleagues in my new district that are new to their building and/or first time administrators as we are relying on each other as a team. Throughout the day we discussed how many days our teaching staff will be sitting through meetings. New teachers to the district will be sitting through four days of new teacher meetings in addition to the other scheduled meetings with all staff. About midway through the day one of the other admins popped off, “no wonder our teachers complain this is information overload as my brain really hurts from what we just discussed.” This quote that I read over the summer came to mind

As I begin to prepare for the return of teachers and the beginning of the school year with the building principal I hope I continue to not enjoy meetings. Meetings are necessary, but can be overwhelming. Keep it simple and put yourself in their seat. This way I hope to remember what it’s like to sit in the teacher seat.

I took the time tonight to enjoy time with my eldest daughter and in-laws during dinner. Even enjoyed some time in the pool and a trip for some ice cream. That puts day one in the books. I look forward to sharing my adventure as a school administrator throughout the school year.