Miss Night's Marbles

Musings, mumbles, marvels, and sometimes mockery, live from kindergarten.

One month in Admin: 10 things I have learned since joining the Dark Side

on 4 October, 2013

Ok, it has been just over a month since I started this admin gig, and moved from my classroom to my office.  I’ve learned some things, some of them serious, some of them snarky. For whatever it is worth, my advice to date:

  1. Do whatever it takes to be in a really good mood BEFORE you check your e-mail for the first time each day. For me, this means a big vanilla latte, country music in the car, and greeting our grade one and two students as they come in from the playground.
  2. Greet students by name every time you see them. Not only does this delight them, it impresses the bejebus out of parents.
  3. While you’re at it, greet parents by name, too. Ask about their weekend, their trip, the new baby.
  4. Visit the classrooms as often as possible, but visit the gym, the music room, the library, the art room, too. Specialist teachers do amazing things with hundreds of children, every day.
  5. Even if they went to kindergarten at your school, grade one students will get lost in the hallways.  Kindergarten students are constantly supervised, grade twos know their way around, but grade ones get lost. Learn to recognize a child who is lost but doesn’t want to admit it.
  6. Go outside. Go outside with big kids and little kids and in-between kids, with teachers and aides and volunteers. Learn what recess looks like, which playground equipment is the source of the most injuries, which areas of the yard can’t be seen from the benches where supervisors tend to sit. Move the benches.
  7. No meeting is so important that a child who needs a hug can’t interrupt you. Even the Head of School/the Superintendant/the Board Chairperson will NOT get mad if you pause to accept a hug.
  8. Keep crayons, paper, playdough, some stuffed animals, and a puzzle or two in your office.
  9. Aim for inbox zero once a week, and for inbox twenty before you go home at the end of the day.
  10. Go HOME at the end of the day. Everything and everyone will still be there tomorrow. You are not on-call 24/7. Go home, sit in a chair, watch the clouds go by.

You deserve it.


8 Responses to “One month in Admin: 10 things I have learned since joining the Dark Side”

  1. […] Students have been in school for six full weeks.  I am very much learning on the job.  I found a recent post by @CarinavanHeyst to be particularly relevant to where I am at right […]

  2. Love the balance of humor and real down-to-earth insight. I’m in year 3 in my journey through the Dark Side and thoroughly enjoying it. You’re right–1st graders are pretty much always lost! And just like with teaching, it’s all about relationships–hugs, hellos, greeting by name.
    Get out of your “cave” (my office when the walls are closing in) and be with students and teachers. Its the best remedy for any kind of trying day. Can’t wait to keep reading about your adventure!

  3. lindrisano says:

    Oh my goodness did I need to read this tonight. Thank you for helping me perspective. Especially #10.

  4. Joanne says:

    I have been on this journey for a few years but am starting in a new school. It is like starting over again. I also teach kindergarten . It is quite a balancing act.

  5. HI,

    I am new to the “dark side” this year too, so really appreciated your thoughts. Some of them validated what I have been doing which felt good too. I particularly liked your advice about getting in a good mood before looking at emails, etc – or just starting your day, really. That was a thought that I need to take on board, so thank you for that. Someone at a course I was at recently talked about the importance of a few really deep slow breaths every morning, and I think I will use that as my “good mood” starts to the day.

    The difference between you and I is that I am in secondary school. But still your thoughts apply to me.

    Thanks again. 🙂


    • Miss Night says:

      Hi Liz
      As I wrote, I wondered if my discoveries would be relevant to administrators at other levels, and I’m glad to hear that they resonated with you, too. I imagine that, while you maybe don’t need to keep stuffed animals in your office, there are other ways of keeping your space student-friendly.
      As for the “good mood” advice – I have been stunned by how an inbox full of staff absences, nitpicky chores, parent complaints, can have the power to set the tone for my day. I find that the things that REALLY matter in my job (my relationships with students, families, teachers; supporting teaching and learning in all their forms)can slip away way too easily if I don’t make a conscious decision to manage my own frame of mind pro-actively.
      So glad you commented – would love to keep in touch as we both move through our first year on the Dark Side!

  6. Meredith says:

    Thanks for that! i am just beginning my ‘dark side’ journey. In my board it take 2+ years to even be considered. I am staring at my Philosophy of Educational leadership right now as I head to the Principal’s course.

  7. […] "Ok, it has been just over a month since I started this admin gig, and moved from my classroom to my office. I've learned some things, some of them serious, some of them snarky."  […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.