Balancing Act #savmp

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Photo Credit: Viewminder via Compfight cc

Hard to believe that November is already here. This may be one of the quickest starts to a school year in my 11 years of teaching.

In my school division the Vice Principal teaches. I believe I teach approximately 60% and the remainder of my week is admin and prep time. This year is slightly different from the past. It is my third year as a Vice-Principal but my first year as a grade three teacher. I have primarily taught grade eight my entire career with a little bit of grade five thrown in the mix. It has been a really big adjustment for me. I am thankful that I have an awesome group of kids that just roll with me!

My worry is this: that I am not doing  a great job in either of my roles. I am trying to find that elusive balance between the two roles. As all teachers know, when teaching a new grade – there is so much prep work to be done. I have quickly learned that primary teachers are my heroes! The amount of work that goes into teaching primary is staggering some days. On the flip side of this is the fact that I still have administrative duties. Some of my duties include supporting teachers and being an instructional leader for them. I just feel like there is not enough time in the day and that I can quickly be wrapped up in my own planning and instruction. I have a young staff so I feel more accountable to them in terms of supporting and guiding them. I am searching for that middle ground but wondering if it truly exists.

For those of you out there that have both roles included in your job description – my question to you is how do you manage both roles? How do you ensure that you are giving your students all that they need while at the same time supporting your teachers?

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7 Responses to Balancing Act #savmp

  1. I am in my third year as an assistant principal as well and have went from a part time teacher, to part time coordinator, to full time AP. This year has been the easiest for me to balance my time. Partly because I don’t have other responsibilities outside of my AP duties, but also because it’s my 3rd year and I probably understand the position a lot better.

    I find the best way to balance is to assign your time and priorites based on what is important to you and your school. When I was teaching, I focused on teaching. I tried very hard to not let my admin. duties take away from my time in the classroom. Most things can wait, and staff will understand that if you make it your priority.

    I used my admin. time as admin. time. During the school day, use your admin. time to be in the classrooms, hallways, and staff room. Support the teachers with discipline, finding resources, listening to what they need…

    Then, afterschool, focus on your classroom first and your other admin. duties second. I found that when I made sure that I got what I needed to get done for my classroom duties at school, most of my admin. duties could be dealt with from home (clerical, reports, research…).
    Just make sure you keep family and personal time as a priority as well!
    Good luck balancing!

    • lmorhart says:

      Denise – Thanks so much for your comments and advice. It is so easy to let the teaching and admin stuff overlap and blend together. I do need to prioritize better – that is for sure. I am going to make a focused effort this week to work out the logistics for my staff.

      In past years, my admin time was all over the map. Because I was moved to a younger grade, I requested that my time in and out of the classroom be consistent so there was minimal upheaval for the kids. I do have some consistent time this year so I need to utilize it better.

  2. Natasha says:

    Lindsay, what a challenge. I know that you are wondering if you are doing a good job and the fact that you are reflecting on this tells me that you are. I had to learn (and I am still learning) how to prioritize my time. That means that teachers do nocessarily get things on their timetable. It’s ok to let people know that you will be able to hadle or deal with certain things at a later date/time. Take things as they come and it will all get done.

  3. I remember doing that role and it was extremely tough. The thing that I found out was that my classroom came second to the needs of the entire school which is unfair to those kids. This is a reality of admin. What I did realize was that this became an advantage in the way that I thought about teaching and learning at the time. I worked my butt off with those students so that they didn’t need me in the room to learn and it led to a lot of project based learning. I would leave sub plans that would simply tell the teacher coming in what the students were working on and to guide them but I would often write, “they know what they are doing.” That meant a lot to me and inadvertently I was creating a classroom that was more about them and less about me. This is something that shouldn’t just happen with a VP but with any class that you work with.

    Just something to think about 🙂

    • lmorhart says:

      Hey George,

      Not sure how I missed this but thanks for the comment and the ideas. I completely agree with you. This is something we have been working on a lot with my class this year: Creating and fostering independence. They are a very resilient group in that they are missing me quite a lot but they seem to need a lot of guidance and reassurance.

      The kids are embarking on an inquiry unit with my co-teacher so I am curious to see how they grow and learn during this process. After the February break we will be co-teaching so I am really looking forward to that. As always, this was a learning experience for me. As it appears, I will be in a new teaching assignment again next year so I need to ensure that I start at the beginning of the year with whatever kids I am working with – making sure that independent learning is a priority!

  4. My first year of admin included half time teaching in an early education classroom ( 3-4 yr olds with significant needs). It was a huge learning curve in both roles as I had been teaching grade 5-6 for years. As others have said I worked to divide the positions and devote my full attention to the position I was in for the moment. I spent half a day each weekend to sort my teaching life out for the week ( not great for home school balance but it made me feel so much better for the week). Even as I learned more, it never really got easier but I got in a rhythm and that helped. It is a tough job and maybe just think of this if your goal is to be a principal- if you can juggle all of that, you will be able to juggle all the balls expected of a principal. Make sure you take time to leave it all behind. I didn’t do any work at least one day on the weekend. I focused on my family or my own needs.

    • lmorhart says:

      Brenda,

      Thank you for the comment. I am not sure how I missed it but I appreciate you taking the time.
      It is definitely tricky to balance. One thing I have started doing, is actually leaving my office for another space when prepping for my teaching assignment. I am able to detach my self from the office for that hour and people know what I am doing. While I am taking this time, the Principal is in the office to deal with anything that may arise.
      I have also used time on Sunday’s to come in and organize my week. It really does help!

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