PMP161: Answers to Principal Matters Questions, Part 2

Last week Jen Schwanke and I answered questions from podcast listeners. Listen to Part 1 here.

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This week we take three more questions from principals on parenting, women in leadership, and professional growth. Here’s our feedback, or you can listen to the entire conversation on the podcast:

Question 1: How do you manage being a parent and a principal both? I had a serving principal tell me “It’s impossible!”

Jen and Will’s responses:

Nothing is impossible! Principals are known for managing a lot and being an education leader and parent is possible with planning and forethought. Let’s get practical. There are several Life Hacks you can use to help. For me (Jen) that includes making meals ahead, living by a calendar [with down time scheduled!!], and asking for help.

Focus on efficiency, not perfection. If possible, use others for help. Some principals hire out extras like cleaning to free up time for other tasks. If grandparents are near, rely on them.

Think of what’s making it impossible and remedy that area (commute, impossible professional self-expectations, Netflix binges, for instance.)

Find joy by embedding both worlds of leading a school and parenting children. When you do, you’ll be a more compassionate leader for others on your team doing the same.

Question 2: How do I most effectively lead as woman admin?

Jen‘s response:

I’ve never made my identity about a woman administrator.  I’ve made it about being a good administrator. At times, I’ve felt it was an issue, but I tried to really think about why and put that “why” in a zone. Never, ever let being a woman be an excuse or an explanation. Go where you’re wanted and don’t lose your purpose.  

Will’s response:

As I travel to other schools, I’ve noticed men still outnumber women in many leadership roles. But as someone who has served under several women leaders, I echo Jen’s statement. The women whose leadership I have respected have been persons of integrity, consistency, courage and compassion. These are important qualities in every leader. Serve with those qualities and you will earn the respect of others. If those around you can’t follow that kind of leader, you may want to consider finding a place where you will be more appreciated.

Question 3. I’m so busy. How do I maintaining professional growth?

Jen’s and Will’s responses:

Identifying needs you have (i.e. data, assessment, Title) and focus your learning on where you want to learn as you don’t have time to read everything others recommend. It’s important to remember how your personal balance and professional growth coexist: when you are personally growing, you’ll find yourself sharper professionally.

Learning hacks listen while commuting: listen to podcasts of other leaders or education leaders. Build a social media following of like-minded leaders and check out their recommendations. Pick up the phone and call another principal or eat a meal together. The professional ideas you can share face-to-face are powerful! Reflect on what you learn in leadership, and write it down or share with others. Every day you are learning something that could someone else grow.calen

Let’s Wrap This Up

You’ll never lead perfectly, but when you reflect on your practices and apply lessons learned, you will consistently see personal and professional growth. A big thanks to Jen Schwanke for co-hosting these series together!

Now It’s Your Turn

What’s an area where you would like to see personal or professional growth this school year? As you think about the challenges of school leadership, what other ideas or suggestions would you add to these questions?

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker