Courageous Principals

Last weekend Alaina and I had the opportunity to travel to Deloitte University for their Courageous Principal Training. I wasn’t sure about going. It’s hard to miss a day of school, but I’ve been feeling in need of some motivation and Teach For America Los Angeles paid the flight and training fee. I’m going to sound dramatic, but the experience was so inspirational. I went in skeptical, thinking “What does a consulting firm know about being a principal.” Turns out strong leadership is strong leadership regardless of the industry. Deloitte University was glitz and glamour to the extreme. Made my wonder why I don’t work in the corporate world.

Deloitte University was out of control! There were 16 stocked pantries on the residential floors. Each one was named after one of the Deloitte offices and offered a specialty snack based on that region.

Saturday night after our panel dinner Alaina took the Tour de Deloitte (I promise we weren’t the only ones ) and visited every themed room. Over a mile of walking! A little disappointed the LA room had vitamin water. I guess tacos would have been a little hard.

Alaina snapchatted the entire experience…

And that was just the beginning of all things free at Deloitte. Kind bars for days.

Afternoon pretzels. Why not?

My beautiful creation from the breakfast bar.

 Not feelin the insane breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet? Grab a salad or a sandwich.img_6365.jpg

Hate cold water? Ambient it is.img_6349

And the gym. Ahh! The foam rolling section (yes, there was an entire section devoted to foam rolling) had different lengths, pressures, had sticks, trigger point balls. It was beautiful, and the perfect spot for my morning runs. Saturday morning I did a 3 mile tempo at a 6:15ish pace followed by a few 800s, and Sunday morning I ran an easy 8. Easy is always a bit faster on the treadmill because I’m so ready to get off. Ran it at about a 8 minute mile pace.

They also had these amazing treadmill desks that we used during our breakout sessions. Oh, and yes, that’s me holding a free almond milk latte from the Starbucks.img_6361

Here I am with my partner in crime πŸ™‚ 

Enough about the free stuff. The training was more than just living it up, but it was nice to be spoiled for a weekend πŸ™‚ I was also just amazed at how intentional everything was. The campus was an operational masterpiece!

OK so the training. It was 120 administrators (about 95% Teach For America Alums) from all over the country for three days. We were told to bring a challenge we were currently facing, and through the curriculum, role-playing, collaboration, and networking you worked towards an action plan for tackling that challenge. The entire weekend of discuss, reflect, process, repeat can be summarized with this…

EQ3 is growing, and we are challenged with maintaining the momentum of the success from our first year. We saw a slight dip in our academic data during our winter testing. It was nothing alarming and we could easily blame other factors to this dip (moving, leaking facilities, behavior, scholars enrolled in October, doubling in size). But rather than blame our poorly designed temporary site or our more challenging bunch of Kindergartens, we need to act with urgency to decide the future of EQ3. We have the right people int he building, we have the opportunity to eliminate the achievement gap for our scholars, but we need to act now.

I haven’t been clear on my role as the principal of a growing school. My time wasn’t being used well at school. In my founding year it was possible to lead snack and lunch, support with multiple reading groups, and take on after-school tutoring. We’re about to be a three grade level school. My job is to have a strong pulse of the school. I need to be visible, interacting with stakeholders, getting a global view, creating a vision for the school, and monitor our progress towards school goals. I’ve been in the weeds because it makes me feel like I’m contributing and leading by example, but it’s hurting my sense of balance. I’m coming home, running, and doing everything I haven’t been able to do at school because I spent the day running around. This also isn’t giving me the opportunity to share best practices and push instruction. I’ve messaged this revelation with my staff, made adjustments to my schedule, and working with this lens made for an incredible week at work. Every component of my day felt purposeful and I focused on coaching my team in meeting their goals, rather than trying to do it for them.

Here’s what a typical day looks like:

  • 6:30-7:00 One-on-one with one of my teachers
  • 7:10-7:25 Morning huddle with all staff
  • 7:25-7:4o Morning arrival (greeting scholars with handshakes and interacting with parents)
  • 7:45-9:30 Parent meeting block
  • 9:30-11:00 Reading Groups (I’ve downsized to leading just 1 group so that I can visit other classrooms for the other hour)
  • 11:00-1:00 Previously was lunch duty, now is sitting in on grade-level meetings, observations, responding to emails
  • 1:00-3:30 Leadership Meetings, Executive Team Meetings, One-on-one meetings
  • 3:30-4:15 Dismissal and cleaning up any issues from the day

I can look at my schedule and know that everything is a valuable use of my time. And I doubt anyone made it this far into this post, but the process of writing this out is really helping me πŸ™‚ My challenge directly related to Alaina’s challenge which was to create a streamlined intervention program for our scholars. It was amazing having her there as a thought partner. I’m so lucky to work with the dream team.

What is your business chemistry? I’m a guardian! I didn’t agree with methodical but Alaina goes “Seriously, can we talk about your marathon training plans!?”

On the flight back we were rerouted to San Diego. I’d like to think it was because of the protests but apparently it was a Delta system error. Here we are mid-flight when we found out we were going to San Diego. Sadly there was no time to hit up San Diego breweries 😦 IMG_2729.JPG

Even San Diego was protesting.

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 5.45.50 PM.png

We ended up getting home and eating dinner a little after 9:30, which made the 5:10 wake-up call no fun, but the energy from the weekend fueled me through the week.

Woah. That was long. Been wanting to reflect on my experience since I got back. Super excited to cross that off my list of things to do. #guardian #methodical

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2 thoughts on “Courageous Principals

  1. What a weekend it was! We both grew in so many ways in just theee days. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you for always pushing me to be my best!

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