The Principal's Office
Leadership. Collaboration. Innovation.
"Administration is a lonely profession." This is something I hear over and over again from people when I tell them I am a school administrator. While ultimately as Principal I am the instructional leader and final decision maker in the building, I find my job to be far from lonely. Meeting with teachers, talking with students, getting out into the community, observing classes, facilitating workshops, going to after school events, and attending committee meetings have me in the middle of many engaging conversations and collaborating with dozens of people. Each meaningful conversation reminds me of why I love doing what I do every day.
As I reflect more on why people think the job of an administrator can be lonely, for me it is more about how often I have time to grow professionally with others rather than the day to day responsibilities of the job. It is true that it is very difficult as an administrator to find time to grow yourself professionally when the expectations are that you help others grow. Single day workshops and mini-conferences are beneficial but the lasting impact they have can be difficult when there is little time to collaborate with others. This is when I made an effort to join Twitter and establish my PLN (personalized learning network.) It has become a game-changer for me in my professional growth.
A PLN, when searched in Google, is a tool that uses social media and technology to collect, communcate, collaborate and create with connected colleagues anywhere at any time. For more information on how to establish a PLN and why it is beneficial I would encourage you to read the following article in Edutopia, https://www.edutopia.org/blog/how-do-i-get-a-pln-tom-whitby
Establishing my PLN began for me when I heard a keynote address by Eric Sheninger (@E_Sheninger) at a Google Summit I attended at High Point Regional High School in 2013. He talked about the power of social media and how he used it to help his students and his school achieve success. As I experimented with Twitter and began networking with fellow educators I was enlightened with hundreds of ideas. It was a 24 hour professional development resource. We started our own Technology Summit in the Pequannock School District which has afforded me the opportunity to meet and talk with educational experts like Will Richardson (@willrich45), Alice Keeler (@alicekeeler), Rich Kiker (@rkiker) and Denis Sheeran (@MathDenisNJ), among others. Most recently I have been talking with Jimmy Casas (@casas_jimmy) who is a Senior Fellow for the International Center for Leadership in Education. He will be our opening keynote speaker for our first day of school this year. I am looking forward to the positive impact he will have on all of our staff members in the district. These are just a few of the hundreds of educators I follow on a daily basis. Participating in Twitter chats such as #satchat, #makeitreal, #tlap and #leadlap just to name a few, have provided the opportunity to share ideas, hear educational theories and put into practice new instructional techniques that has reinvigorated my passion for the work we do together in our school. I am never alone in my office. Even during the time when administrative paperwork is inevitable, I know I can always reach out to learn from someone simply by reaching out to my PLN.
My PLN has re-established my love for reading. Hearing about books like Lead Like a Pirate, Teach Like a Pirate, Shift This, The Innovator's Mindset, Instant Relevance, Kids Deserve It and Digital Leadership has transformed me as a building leader and has re-defined the climate and culture in our school and in our community. Watching some of my teachers creating their own PLNs on Twitter and incorporating new techniques into their classrooms has only made us stronger together.
I encourage any educator to establish a PLN. Whether you are a teacher, administrator, media specialist, nurse, school counselor, or someone who is just looking to grow professionally, give Twitter a try, read a blog, write a blog (yes, I'm a first timer), follow educators on LinkedIn and Google+. It will open your eyes to the endless opportunities that await you. My job is far from lonely. In fact, I have never had more people to rely on! Let us continue to grow together and help prepare a new generation of learners and educators! Happy Learning!
Follow me on Twitter @RichHayzler