I am so excited for the start of this school year. I am at a new school this year and am blessed to be able to bring my 6-year old with me. I made the move to a school closer to my home for my youngest child, who will be joining us the following year for Kindergarten. Two of my three children have Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and I wanted to be able to be with our youngest as he entered school. But this blog post is not about that.
I wanted to write today about building relationships. Making connections overlays my entire philosophy of educational leadership. Why would anyone want to follow your vision if they don’t feel that you care about them? Spending time getting to really know your students, staff and families is not only the most crucial aspect of being a principal, but also the most rewarding. I try to describe to my friends and family outside of education the feeling that I get when I walk into my school building and encounter people who are genuinely excited to see me. I get to feel what it’s like to be famous in my little world. I have actually had some teachers tease me that I need to stay away from their class in the hallway because the kids get so wound up wanting to talk to me. Now, I don’t have any special powers – anyone can make these kinds of connections; you just have to spend the time getting to know people. And for them to get to know you. It’s important to show everyone what you are all about – your likes, dislikes, your educational beliefs and vision.
I recently experienced the joy and pain of building true relationships as I transitioned to my new school. In moving, I had to leave behind an amazing school community that truly embraced me, my family and my vision. The outpouring of love that I received when I told the community I was leaving reaffirmed to me that I am on the right path in leading with love. I was blown away at the number of teachers who said that I had changed their lives. This was a side effect to leadership that I hadn’t really considered when I first set out in education. My philosophy had always been to make students’ lives better, but now I see that I am in position to make teachers’ lives better too.
The bittersweet side was having to say “see you soon” to a wonderful group of students, teachers and family members. These were people who I truly loved and who helped to make my life better (isn’t that an amazing aspect of being an educator?). It made me see the downside of building relationships – the pain that you feel when you have to leave. I got to watch people grow, whether it was children as they got older or the adults as they became better versions of themselves. It is sad to think that you will not be a part of their everyday lives anymore. However, the tremendous aspect of the world we live in is that we can maintain relationships with people that we might not see on a daily basis.
With all that being said, I am hopeful for the new relationships that I will be creating and for the lives that I will be impacting and those who will influence me. Moving on will allow me to spread my vision to a whole new group of individuals and for a new group of individuals to make my life better.
Lead on with love.