Lots of things tug at a Head of School (or Principal) the first week of school. As many of us get back into the saddle in the coming weeks, it is good to have some simple yet profound reminders for how to keep our feet firmly planted and our hands steadily working on the right things. Here are a few pointers I tell myself and other Administrators, some simple "dos" and "don'ts" on the first week of school.
Do be present and visible.
Don’t be in your office too much.
Do meet with Department heads or other Admin to debrief from the week.
Don’t schedule meetings that can wait until week two or three.
Do get good rest.
Don’t look burdened, no matter how heavy the weight is.
Do get to school before everyone.
Don’t be one of the first to leave.
Do schedule an opportunity to meet with every class for a brief orientation.
Don’t overstep the teacher’s opportunity to properly orient his or her specific class.
Do stand outside each morning to greet.
Don’t miss an opportunity to share a kind remark with a parent about their child the first week, especially new parents.
Do expect to lead by word and deed, especially anything that has changed since last year.
Don’t get annoyed when you are asked to lead yet again.
Do look and stand with decorum and gravitas.
Don’t act stoic.
Do check on each teacher at least once throughout the day, to see how they are and how you may help.
Don’t pace with frenzy throughout the school and increase everyone’s blood pressure.
Do take a moment and sit quietly in your office.
Don’t stay in there too long.
Do answer the most important emails for your school that week, especially teachers and staff.
Don’t get distracted by outside interests or other professional ventures.
Do eat a light lunch each day to keep you nimble throughout the day.
Don’t let Friday night’s meal be anything other than something hearty and sloppy (like your favorite takeout Chinese and a good pint of Imperial Stout).
Do expect some things will go wrong the first week.
Don’t make any promises until you’ve had a chance to sit and think about how to best solve the problems that arose.
Do start each morning with quiet prayer, however brief.
Don’t leave until you’ve prayed again.
Do read this list again each year.
Don’t forget to add to it as you learn.