Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Path We Have Chosen

"So how's the new job treating ya?"

Inevitably and understandably, some people have been asking me that question in the last few months. I am fortunate to be working at West Leyden, a school that his given me everything an educator could ask for. I've taught some awesome kids and worked alongside some amazing colleagues and mentors. I've been gifted all the professional development I can handle and recently, the job of Assistant Principal too. Truthfully, I hope I can give half as much to my job as my job has given me.

"But really, are you getting the hang of it?"

I've tried to embrace the vulnerability that comes with honesty in life, because honestly, I am not very good at what I do yet. I've arrived at school for the past 97 days not really leading anything, but trying to learn from decades of leadership experience around me.  I am new. I am inexperienced. And for the most part, I don't know what I am doing. I walk away from conversations second guessing what I said. I've put so many filters through my emails and letters that I've departed from who I want to be as a school leader. I hear the cynics and skeptics. I try really hard to make it through the day, and then get up the next day and do it again.

Hopefully my transparency can connect me to others who have felt the same way at some point in time, not just with their careers but with their lives. I remember bringing my son home from the hospital for the first time with a restless feeling. So what do we do with him now? How can I stop him from crying, and where did we put that pack of diapers again? Luckily for me, I had the help of my wife and together we are erasing the early self-doubts of parenthood one day at a time. I think.

Like becoming a new parent, learning a new job can be really tough, especially as a first year teacher, coach, or administrator. Having worked here for a few years, I'm lucky to have existing relationships with colleagues around me. There is nothing that we cannot do together. Our secretaries, maintenance staff, teachers, and administrators can attest to that- as I've experienced formal and informal mentoring in these first three months. I am grateful for those moments and can only hope that I will add something to their skill set too. We have to build each other up.

"Do you miss teaching?"

Of course. The best part of our jobs is the daily interaction with our kids, just ask anyone who works at a school in the summer. I miss the kids but still try to manufacture interactions with students whenever I can. I'm convinced that teaching five classes for 35 years is the toughest job in education, but I also believe that being a teacher is the most rewarding job in the world. Our kids fill our souls in ways that we cannot quantify -and that, of course, is something I miss.

"Well, you will get the hang of it eventually..."

I know. I just hope I can look back at the totality of these days and find humor in it all. Until then, I appreciate the patience and collegiality of all my peers as I make the journey.

"This is the path we have chosen. We are responsible for modeling what we expect from others, especially when we don't get it right. Let us not be fools when the criticism comes, but take time to reflect and make the necessary changes in order to grow."
-Jimmy Casas. 


  1. Another great Post Andrew.......humility is a great strength to have as a leader.....

  2. Hi Andrew,
    I love this post, and can totally relate as a new administrator. I'm just starting my second year but with 120 new students and families it feels new all over again. I feel like I work all the time. Just keep trusting yourself, and continue to learn and be passionate. Spend as much time with teachers and kids as you can-- that is what helps me survive the overwhelmingness of the email inbox. We are all in it together and it can get lonely sometimes, so just reach out and we are here for you!

    Have a GREAT week!

  3. Thanks for reading Jennifer and keep fighting the good fight. It's an uncomfortable feeling when we first start but it's encouraging to see the light at the end of the tunnel!

  4. Good stuff Andrew. Someday you won't be the "new" administrator. If we do these jobs right, we will always question where we are in the growth process.

  5. Andrew,
    What an awesome post! You came to my mind the other day and I was thinking that I hope your transition is going well...and then I find this heart-felt post about it. It's one I feel we can all relate to so much. Your gift of wording says it all so well. To me, you're already on the way to big success because you have given us all something here we can connect with that shows encouragement, is inspiring, and above all it shows caring. Those are some pretty strong signs of leadership. :)

    1. Thanks so much for reading Maria. I appreciate your support!

  6. This post was amazing and vulnerable. I needed it. Thank you!

  7. Maria StavropoulosOctober 6, 2014 at 10:59 PM

    Well said Andrew! Your transparency, honesty and commitment to continue developing your leadership, and others is greatly appreciated. Keep paving the way for those who are following! Thanks!

    1. Thanks Maria. So excited to learn with you this year in #savmp!

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