Mr. Bernia is a middle school principal who recently added a post to his blog about the pledge he made to his staff.
As a new administrator, I thought I would sit down and create a pledge to my staff, even though it’s probably more for me than for them.
I pledge to focus on what is best for students.
I know that there will be moments when I’ll be sitting in front of a teacher who is complaining about a decision that has made his/her job a little more difficult. It would be easy to let the comfort of the teacher guide my decision. I have to do what’s best for students, even if I’m erased from that teacher’s Christmas list.
I pledge to listen to all sides of the story before making a decision.
I know this may not be possible for all decisions that I will have to make, but if there is a major, school-wide policy decision that has to be made, I need to hear from all stake-holders. I know of a principal who came into a school, and started making gigantic changes without consulting teachers who had been at that school for years. It was a disaster, because the changes that the principal wanted to implement, although well-meaning, just didn’t work at that school, because of logistics. Consulting with teachers before making the changes would have saved the principal a lot of time and money – and reputation.
I pledge to never assume that I know all the answers.
Again, like in the last pledge, I need to be open to collaborate with those around me. This is going to be a tough one.
I pledge to stay organized.
Here’s another tough one for me. As a teacher, my file cabinet didn’t have any files in it. It was a storage bin. As administrator, I need to be quick to create a system of organization that will allow me to know where everything is at. My desk needs to be neat, so visitors to my office can feel that I have everything under control. Being organized brings a sense of calm to those who look to me as their leader.
I pledge to smile more.
I don’t smile naturally. It’s something that I have to purposefully do. I have been told that my first impression is of a person who is mean and unhappy. I can’t have that image as an administrator. I will be meeting with parents, district officials, community members, etc. and I need to be someone who is positive. I’ve been working on this a lot lately. In my last post, I mentioned that even though I was drowning in work, I kept my smile. I’m going to get help with this from my friend in the office. I’m going to tell him to remind me to smile every time he sees me without one.
I pledge to seek out advice from mentors.
I know I’m still learning how to be an effective administrator. That is why I’m going to seek out those who have experience in this field. I’ve already subscribed to several blogs written by school administrators, and I will be picking the brain of my principal a lot this year.
I pledge to remember that I am part of a team.
Our mantra at my school is, “Big Team – Little Me.” I’ve learned that more can be accomplished by many than can be by one. This is going to be a great year, but it’s going to be great if we work together. I promise to do my part.
I pledge to be an encourager.
I want everything I say this year to have some element of encouragement in it. I want people, whether they are students, teachers, or parents, to leave my office feeling uplifted. As I wrote in my last post, I was feeling pretty bad about this job when I received an email from a friend that turned everything around. I want to have that kind of effect on people who walk into my office.
I pledge to be open to debate and not avoid conflict.
I’ve learned that conflict, although uncomfortable, can be healthy. As an administrator, I know there will be conflict. My personality is to avoid these uncomfortable moments. It is so much easier to remain silent or give in to the other side, but I can’t do this. I need to be prepared to debate about an issue that I believe will benefit my students.
So there they are.
My pledges for my first year as an administrator.
I don’t know how well I’ll be able to keep these promises, but I’m going to do my best.
What pledges would you add to this list?
Which pledge do you think I’ll have the most trouble with.
I’m interested in reading your comments.
Until next time,