After teaching for five years, ‘school’ felt like a different world the moment I stepped out of the classroom. As an Assistant Principal, I spend far more time talking to adults, my clothes tend to stay cleaner, and I even traded in my beloved classroom rocking chair for an office desk. I knew my transition would be full of changes, but one of the biggest adjustments was something I didn’t see coming.
When I was a teacher, the pattern of the day was fairly consistent. I knew what to expect during most parts of the day. Each day brought little adventures, but for the most part I could anticipate the highs and lows. I knew the rhythm of the year. Some seasons were busy, like preparing report cards and exhibition nights. Some seasons were deliberate, like teaching routines during the fall, and some seasons were exhilarating, like the excitement of spring as all the pieces come together and students begin to achieve their goals.
One morning this fall, I awoke to what I thought would be a routine day. With my outfit picked out and my lunch packed, I began to get ready for school. That is when the text messages started to arrive telling me that we were short on substitute teachers for the day. The ‘sub agency’ was unable to fill our requests for substitute teachers, and in just over an hour a couple of classes would be without a teacher. Once our leadership team arrived at school, we went into triage mode. We moved around schedules, called upon our amazing support staff, and adjusted course to make sure students were still able to receive high-quality instruction. The morning was not what I had expected, but we worked together as a team to get the day back on track. It was in that moment that I realized I had no idea what the rhythms of the year would be as a school leader. I didn’t know which months would be more chaotic, and which would be calmer. I didn’t know which weeks would be a sprint and which would be a marathon.
I have learned that the pace of the day for a school leader is highly unpredictable. A calm morning can turn in an instant. You begin the day with a beautifully-crafted schedule of classroom observations, lesson-modelling, and data meetings, but your schedule can quickly be turned upside down by a sub cancellation, a flood of discipline referrals, or even a dreaded lice outbreak.
Adaptability is key in my new role. I find myself prioritizing and then re-prioritizing in the real time as the variables change. There is a never a boring day and I am so grateful for that. I work with an incredible team here at Los Suenos Academy, and they keep me coming back each day, excited for the challenges ahead. As we adapt to changes throughout the day, individuals sacrifice for the good of the whole, and that makes us an unstoppable team.
Katherine is an Assistant Principal at Los Sueños Academy. She grew up in the Bay Area and then attended college at Wake Forest University where she studied history and Spanish. After graduation, Katherine taught first grade for three years in Alum Rock School District in San Jose, and then taught first grade for 2 more years at Los Sueños. When she’s not at school, she likes to cook, read, and spend lots of time outside.