Thursday, October 2, 2014

How being a mom changed me as a supervisor

It's true what they say, "everything changes when you have a baby."  I foolishly thought that it just pertained to my personal life (including my sleep schedule) but now, 8 weeks into this ball game, I can clearly see that much (okay, all) of my life has changed, including my professional outlook.

Suddenly, it can wait.  Those little tasks that I would break my back to get done before leaving after an 11 day can wait, they will be on my desk and in my inbox when I return the next day.  I've learned to know the difference between an emergency and "it can wait."  Because as you know, babies don't keep.  My daughter will only be 7 weeks old once and I don't want to miss a moment with her because I'm fretting over something minuscule at the office.  I will never get these moments, these days back again.  She and I will never experience another October 2nd, 2014 again.  And I've realized my staff is feeling the same way about their families.

My biggest change perhaps has been in my relationships with staff.  I am more respectful of their time and what I'm asking of their time and their energy.  There are only 24 hours in the day and I am already responsible for 8 of them.  I see them with a new lens that I hadn't previously been privy to, the lens of a mother.  I see that these women are all someone important in the lives of their family members.  Almost all of my team members are mothers but beyond that, they are sisters, daughters, grandmothers, wives, girlfriends, best friends, etc.  They put on their teacher hat when they come to the building but when they leave, they switch their focus back to their other roles.  I truly believe that teachers are always wearing their teacher hats, even when they've left the classroom both for the day and for career advancement. Further, we don't take off our mom hats but rather channel our energies in other ways. I find that I now see those relationships as the most important aspect of my role as a supervisor.

I spend more time focusing on conversations with staff than on paperwork.  I want to know what's going on in their lives and how it's impacting their work and how I can support them so that when they're at the center, they are there physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I also have less time for BS.  There is no room for it, quite honestly, as I am trying to get all of my work done so I can walk out of the door with my daughter on time.  There can be no drama, no wandering of the mind... I am on-task and focused the entire time I am in the office and I find that to be motivating.  I may not get as much paper pushed around in a week, but I know I'm making a difference in the lives of children, families, and my staff.

Cheers to Friday & the weekend ahead!
Ms. DanL

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Comparing teachers

When we compare teachers to each other instead of to themselves, we not only create an undesired parallel process, we diminish the growth of teachers.  (That's a DanL original, folks.)

I met with my preschool team today for our continuity of relationships study and we wound up on the topic about classroom observations and the feedback they receive. This is a team that has had many (many, many, many) observers this program year, including some program staff and some outside agencies (like Teach for America or CLASS).  Both teachers mentioned how frustrating it is to hear how good they are.  I wanted to hug them both in that moment.  We reflected on why people might tell them they're doing well.  They were both able to see that from the outside looking in, it looks good:  they have a good system of working together to manage the classroom.  What those outsiders don't see is the stress, the worry, the anticipation.  We also spoke about how perhaps they are not the "squeakiest wheel" so to speak and they are not seen as needing foundational support, they are viewed as competent.  Which is good, but also frustrating!  

Be that as it may, we talked a bit about not comparing ourselves to others but to the teachers we were yesterday.  We spoke about reflecting on our actions and interactions with children and families.  I have agreed to spend more time video recording in the classroom and facilitating more reflective sessions with the teaching team.  They both wanted just feedback/suggestions but I reminded them that they are their own toughest critique and viewing the video together would allow all of us to be together and look at that moment again with our reflective lens and build ideas together.  I don't think that ME giving suggestions without that reflective piece would be as valuable. I'm so excited to see how this goes!

Side note:  A 7:00am team meeting was WAY better than a 6:00pm meeting.  Like WHOA.  Coffee in hand, I know my brain was far sharper and more alert than it is when we meet at night, when all I can think about is going home and crashing.  I'm interested to pursue this model with other teams who might be willing (I have three classroom teaching teams with whom I plan to meet).

yep, this is true...I want to be joyful always! So true...comparison with others creates a lot of jealousy...and we could use a lot less of that.