by Julie Vincentsen, Principal, Ruggles Lane School, Barre, MA
The hallways were filled with laughter and the excitement of the ensuing summer just hours before and now…not…a…sound. Dismissal was at 11:00 and this picture was taken within hours. As I walked through the building on that last afternoon, after everyone had left, I thought to myself, “It never ceases to amaze me how the pace…just…stops.”
For the past 180 days Principals, across the Commonwealth and across the country, jam packed every moment of learning to make this the best school year for our communities and then everything just came to a screeching halt! On my first day of summer “vacation” I still woke up at 5:15 (without an alarm) and, though I did not have to be, I was at my desk by 9:00. I, like many other Principals, had great difficulty turning off my “school brain.” After 180 jam packed days, that first week was a challenge as my brain and my body worked to adapt to the new normal of being a Principal in the summer months; a time to relax, recharge and rejuvenate.
Relax Your Brain: In talking about this blog post with the Admins in Action Voxer group, many Principals shared that they were feeling the same way. Kelley McCall, an elementary Principal in Kansas, reflected, “It’s time to allow the brain to reset a bit…It’s about me having a chance to rejuvenate and relax a bit!” Brad Gustafson, an elementary Principal in Minnesota, shared, “We work at a frenetic pace that most people would be surprised to experience…I feel less efficient, less focused, less effective now that I am on “break.” A colleague of mine asked me, “Do you think it could be part of your brain re-acclimating to taking a break?” That is what I am experiencing now. Today I lit up my to-do list, but last week was a struggle. I felt almost inept as I bounced around…but I do think I need it. My battery is low. I am recovering from a great school year but a busy school year.”
Recharge Your Body: To “recover” from this frenetic pace, many are using this time to recommit to exercise. Liz Garden, an elementary Principal in Massachusetts, shared, “Exercising went out the window for me this year – being a principal, having a toddler at home – I made every excuse to let that go. I’ve downloaded the Couch to 5K app and I already feel so much better with the run/walks I have done so far. I am hoping to get myself into a routine this summer of working out so I will have that when the school year starts.”
Rejuvenate with Families & Friends: Summer also gives us the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends. Steve Miller, a middle school Principal in Georgia, wrote, “Summer is a time for me time and family time!” Heather Leonard, an elementary Principal in Massachusetts shared, “I look forward to pausing to enjoy unplanned and unscheduled moments with my kids.” One way she plans to do this is by taking her work email off her phone for the summer moments so that “when I’m not at work physically, I’m not at work in my head.” Beth Wittcoff, a Massachusetts middle school Principal, recommends extending this practice into the school year. “No matter how many positive emails we get, one negative email can change the course of day on vacation, on the weekend, or after hours. We need this time during the school year to rejuvenate as well. Once you leave your 12-14 hour school day, you need to leave. We should not feel we need to be always available.”
Whether it be giving your brain a break, getting into the routine of exercising, or pausing to enjoy moments with family and friends, summer is a time needed for Principals to relax, recharge and rejuvenate so that when the marathon begins at the start line of the 2016-2017 school year, we are ready to be all in for our kids!
What are you doing to over the summer to relax, recharge and rejuvenate?
Julie currently works as a K-6 Principal for the Quabbin Regional School District in MA. She has been a school administrator for nine years and a connected educator since 2010. She is the Chair of MESPA’s Professional Development Committee and a Board Member. You can connect with Julie on Twitter @jvincentsen or on Voxer @jvince9309. She is the moderator of the MESPAChat on Voxer – if you are interested in learning more about this engaging collaboration tool, send her an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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