Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sometimes, it's the Little Things.

Writing my school newsletter can sometimes be a real hardship. During the week, I constantly find myself struggling with time management, work/life balance, and the never-ending battle of wrestling with my "to do" list. Thankfully, our PTA is AMAZING at Penngrove and they alternate weeks with me for our school newsletter. One week I write it, and the next week they write it. Love that! A week and a half ago, I got really lucky because I actually had something fun to write about - balls at recess! Yep, that's right. Because I chose to write this particular newsletter in a blog format, I thought I'd post it here too just for fun. It's a reminder to us all about the little things.

Taken from the August 20, 2014 Penngrove Connection

A note from Principal Fadeji...
*Disclaimer: I love blogging and this newsletter will likely feel more like a blog post than an informative newsletter. Enjoy!

Dear Families,

Elementary school life is full of twists and turns. If you've spent any time volunteering in our classrooms, you know that at any given time, you might find yourself instructing a group of children, cleaning up a bloody nose, sharpening pencils, prepping for the next lesson, the list goes on. As educators, we often find ourselves being a jack of all trades. I'd be lying if I didn't tell you that I have definitely thought a time or two to myself, "Ummm.....I didn't learn this when I went to school to become a teacher OR a principal! Now what?!" This week however, I was reminded of the little things.

At our last staff meeting, we spent time hearing presentations about school safety, the district practice of "shared decision making" and Mrs. Mainaris led us through a mini lesson on a program called Socrative. Sounds riveting right?! And there we were with 2 minutes to spare and I threw out the crazy question, "Anything else we need to talk about or discuss?" I can't remember who brought it up, but a teacher said, "Yes, can we talk about recess and the ball problem? It's seriously getting out of control." Inside, I started laughing, "Oh GREAT! We get to talk about basketballs and footballs AGAIN!" However, the discussion that followed was informative, collaborative, and full of problem solving. We came up with some ideas, some new things to try, and reminded each other of some helpful procedures for our students. And then, we all left the room.

As the principal, I added "solve the ball problem" to my "to do" list and moved on. The next thing I knew, it was Monday afternoon and I was meeting with our Leadership Team which consists of a grade level leader from each team. You'll never guess what came up AGAIN! Yep! That's right, the ball problem! It's not that I had pushed this agenda item to the back burner, or that I had even forgotten, but quite honestly, sometimes something like "solving the ball problem" just can't be my #1 priority. Although on Monday afternoon, thanks to our Leadership Team, we made it our #1 priority.

This ball situation got so complex that (some of you may be about to laugh) but I actually reached out to some other principals and educators whom I admire, to ask them how they handle balls at recess. Even as grown adults, we were all laughing together on our Voxer channel (you should Google that) due to the fact that we were having such a thoughtful conversation about recess balls of ALL things!

You see sometimes, things that can appear to us adults as the "little things" are really the things that matter most to our children. The need to feel safe, secure, valued, and loved is within all of us. As a principal, if a seven year old little girl wants to play 4 square, I want her to know right where to go, just what equipment to get, and where to return it when she's done. I want a 12 year old boy to get all his energy out playing football if that's what works best for him and I don't want him doing math at 9:30 am wondering if he's going to get the football at recess. Sometimes the "little things" to us, aren't really so little for students.

That's just one of the many things I love about Penngrove. Even when there are so many BIG things looming over us. Change, new curriculum, technology, schedules, meetings, student incidents that require a considerable amount of time and energy - our staff is never too busy to stop and talk about the "little things."

As an adult, that's an important reminder for each of us. I hope you enjoy the rest of the week watching for the "little things" that often are not as little as they appear.