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Kevin W. Riley

Kelly...Kelly... Holy smokes... you're all over the place! Ask yourself this: what is my one single, non-negotiable mission at this school?

(For me its easy-- it's about KIDS. The academic, social, emotional, total growth and development of our students. No compromise... no interference... no politics...no apologies and no competing agendas. Every effort made, every penny spent, every meeting, every person we hire, every walk-through, every staff meeting is about KIDS and helping our students excel.) One mission.

So if I were in your situation I would filter the crises de jour (painting the gym) through that lens. Is this fuss about the gym going to help achieve the mission?

Do I teach a class or not teach a class? (Answer-- will it help achieve the mission?)

Shall I answer e-mails or conduct walkthroughs? Which one contributes to the mission?

Shall I do a demonstration lesson to show my math department that I still have game... or devote time coaching my 5 new teachers? Depends... which activity will contribute most to achieving the mission?

That's how I balance it all. Nothing.... NOTHING compromises my commitment to my students and my role as an advocate for them.

In the end... that is the difference between an administrator/ manager and a "leader".

Jon Becker

I appreciate that you've put some of your insecurities out there and that you're allowing us to help you be reflective. I do, though, need to make one point of clarification. Your very first sentence is: "As an administrator, one of my main roles is to be an educational leader in the school." Your ONE and ONLY role is to be an educational leader; it is not one of your roles. I would encourage you to eliminate the word "administrator" from your lexicon. It connotes old behavioral, factory-like thinking. Leader, leader, leader...that's who you are and what you do.

And that you are doing it in a reflective way will take you a long way. Hang in there!

Marion Ginopolis


First, take a deep breath! While I agree with Kevin that your ultimate responsibility is to kids, I see that as only occuring through a direct impact on staff. In other words, your primary responsibility should be to develop and nurture your staff which, in turn, will impact the students in your school.

As I read your posting, it appears that you are seeing the many things on your plate as separate pieces when, in fact, they are actually combinable (is that a word?) - For instance, while you are in classrooms teaching, consider conducting the walk-throughs/observations at the same time. Use this opportunity to model good teaching (professional development) and to enhance relationships with the classroom teachers.

A second suggestion is to set aside a specific time each day for office time. Close your door and "pretend" that you are out of the building. This is the time to do the "paper work" and tend to the nitty-gritty administrivia that has to get done.

One piece of sage advice I received from the wise Madeline Hunter many years ago when I was a principal that served me well then and when I was a superintendent...."When confronted with what to do next, pick the one thing that will make the biggest difference the fastest and focus on that!"

And, finally, I know how difficult it can be to discuss your ups and downs with internal colleagues. While I don't have all the answers, I do have over 36 years of experience and offer my assistance to you as someone to listen and help you sort through the myriad responsibilities of being a school leader. Feel free to contact me at any time! (248) 515-9149 or mginopolis@mi-life.org

Zack Allen

Expect the worst and hope for the best.

All of us have hit those rough patches where you can't believe the crap you are dealing with (like names on ceilings being painted over), but there you are being drained by stuff that really doesn't make any difference in the education of your students.

I have grown to expect those things to creep up, and I try very hard to keep the faith in the fact that eventually you can and will make a difference.

So, expect that you are going to be faced with these types of things now and then, and stay focused through these times on what matters most even if you can't get to it right away. Hang in there, you will get a chance to get back to main things if you stay focused on them.



Let me take a slightly different approach than my well-informed, highly intelligent, and respected colleagues. In other words, I see their point, and don't want to diminish their words, only another perspective.

I think you simply HAVE a passion for kids and for your school. You teach, you do the little things, and you take responsibility for it all. That is not bad in my belief. It's not easy, but it is what you want, desire, and maybe even need.

If you know yourself, you don't have to set aside time to lock others out, pick a single focus only, or compromise your beliefs. You can be you, picking up the paper in the hallway, greeting your colleagues at the door, eating lunch with students, or whatever it is you do to be you.

Knowing you make a difference for (and to) the students in your building can keep you energized through the tough spots.

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