Becoming a teacher has been a dream of mine since I was 10 years old. I have been a Youth Coach & Camp Director, Physical Education teacher, Wellness Coordinator, Adjustment Counselor, Athletic Director, Head High School Football Coach, Assistant Principal and as of four weeks ago, the Principal of Normandin Middle School in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Each and every one of these jobs has been my favorite!
A New Beginning:
My first week as principal has been exciting, challenging and fulfilling. I was exhausted by noon of the first day :) I have learned a great deal from the many outstanding leaders I was fortunate enough to have worked with in my career. I also benefitted from collective knowledge I found on twitter through my Professional Learning Network (PLN). Several connected principals on twitter have written about being visible in their schools through "no office" days. I was motivated to try this after reading about the experiences of principals I respect greatly @Dwight_Carter No Office Day
, @mdmcneff Mr. McNeff's No Office Day
, and@L_Hilt Be There
. I am a firm believer that the key to success as a leader is building trusting relationships. You can't build relationships if you don't get out of your office. My goal was to use the "No Office" day philosophy and extend it to include the entire first week of school. Paperwork and correspondence was done before and after school. I placed my desk in the main foyer of the school with a note that told visitors that if I'm not at my desk, I'd be everywhere and anywhere meeting our school family....and that's exactly what I did.
|My desk in the main foyer of our school
Relationships are Built 1 Person at a Time:
I gave our 1st Friday Focus (an idea I borrowed from @ToddWhitaker Todd's Page
) to all our faculty and staff - personally handing it to all of our bus & van drivers. I was pleasantly surprised when one of our drivers posted the following on our blogNormandin Middle School Blog
:I had the pleasure of meeting you this afternoon while waiting for students to be dismissed for the day. I drive a van for Tremblays and wanted again to Thank You for coming out to introduce yourself and thank us the drivers and monitors for being part of your team, it was really a very nice gesture on your part and I wanted to make sure you realize how appreciated it was, Thank you. Welcome to New Bedford Public Schools and best wishes as you begin this journey. May I ask if it would be possible to get the weekly newsletter that you handed us today? It's great to have an idea on what's happening in the students school day.
Thank you Mr. Ouellett. Yes, each of our great drivers & monitors will receive a weekly copy of our Friday Focus!
What I Learned from Getting Out of My Office:
**I placed the following list in our Friday Focus**
Normandin’s 1st week....BY THE #’s
100+ Faculty & staff who have committed to making our school Great!
4 Administrative assistants who welcomed the masses
7 Custodians who make our school look like a home J
1 Engineer who can fix anything!
3 Of the hardest working & dedicated AP’s I’ve met
2 School Nurses who nurture our students & donated their file cabinet=team players!
6 Cafeteria Staff who serve 1K hungry mouths with a smile J
1000+ Students: hungry to learn & grow as part of the Normandin family
15+ Bus & van drivers, who transport our kids SAFELY
1 Cool, Calm & Collected Resource Officer
1 Diligent & Caring Attendance Officer
3 Outstanding Support Systems: Citizen Schools, Gear up & Child & Family Services
2 New Babies!
1 New Marriage!
1 Proud Principal!
It's People Not Programs:
"It's people, not programs" is one of my favorite phrases coined by educational icon @ToddWhitaker. By spending my entire first week out of my office, I was able to begin the worthwhile process of getting to know our parents, guardians, faculty, staff & students. This time allowed me to have discussions with people about what is important to them and what they are passionate about. I highly recommend all administrators trying a "No Office" day or week.....the paperwork can wait!