Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A Day in the Life of an Elementary Vice Principal…Part 1

Let me start with a disclaimer…the typical day in the life of a school administrator is actually anything but typical. Part of the reason that I love this job is that every day is different. In fact, to illustrate this point, I’m thinking I will do “Part 2” of this post as the year progresses.
Each day I arrive at school just before 8 a.m. with the best of intentions and a list of all of the things I want to accomplish that day. Most days I leave still with good intentions, but with a bigger list. Such is the life of an educator!
When I arrive at school I check my voicemail. I have been calling educational assistants (EA) trying to fill a temporary job. There is a message from one of the EAs that I called the previous day saying that she is unavailable. Not a great start to the day.
I move on to my computer. I follow my principal’s advice: if you can answer the email in less than 2 minutes, answer right away. I’m pretty good at staying on top of my inbox. There are four emails that arrived on my half hour drive in to work, but nothing pressing.
I move on to check absences for the day and breathe a sigh of relief. We only have a few staff absences and they are all covered (yesterday we had two “unfilled” positions which takes some creative juggling of schedules).
The new office assistant who begins today arrives and we welcome her. We also found out late yesterday that there are four new students starting today, so the principal and I sit down and decide which classes they will be in. I go tell the teachers about their new students and make sure that they have enough desks while the principal goes out on bus duty. I think I have the better end of this deal…it’s cold out!
This brings us to 8:55 a.m.
Once students settle into class, I stop by a few classrooms. The four new students come in a bit late and I call students from each of their classrooms to come greet them and walk them to their new classes. I quickly meet with our custodian about some health and safety items and then I’m off to teach in our Developmental Skills classroom where I do a lesson on self-regulation.
AG_studentsNext up is first recess and nutrition break. The office is a busy time during breaks. Usually either the principal or I go outside and the other stays in. I stayed in today and did an informal restorative session with some Grade 3 students. I also had some Grade 8 students complete a “covert mission” to change the school sign to a goodbye message for a teacher who is on exchange from Australia and is about to return home.
At the end of recess, the Australian teacher comes to the office with a concern and I am flustered because, as part of the aforementioned covert mission, her class is about to come down with their French planning time teacher and pose in front of the sign for a picture as part of a farewell gift. I awkwardly whisper something to my principal, leaving the teacher to speak to him instead and sneak out of the office to go out and take a picture with the sign. Once that debacle is over, I have the Grade 8 students come back and put a different message up on the sign, leaving no trace of what we had done (aside from my awkward behaviour with the teacher).
Next up, I go down to Grade 7 where the class is interviewing me for a biography project. I was there for about half an hour. They had some great questions like, “What advice would you like to give to students?”  My answer: “Be kind to others, always work hard, believe in yourself.”
After spending time with the Grade 7s, I return to the office and have a bite to eat while simultaneously booking an EA to come in for the next few days for our vacancy. I read and reply to my new emails and, intermittently, proud students stop by to show me work they had completed. A little later another student comes down to play a game of soccer as a bit of a break…he won.
During second recess and nutrition break, I promised a group of Grade 8 boys that I will supervise them in the gym playing basketball. I also have to follow up with a recess issue from the morning so I have those students meet me in the gym and speak with me on the stage while I supervise the older boys. The Australian teacher also comes in to speak to me again…Grade 4s can’t keep secrets. She knows about the covert mission but I’m relieved that at least now she understands my strange behaviour from this morning!
AG_LetterOn Friday evening, our school hosted Storytime with Santa and part of the festivities included writing letters to Santa. Our Grade 8 “elves” responded to the primary students’ letters, and I spent the next hour figuring out where to deliver all of them. This involved some detective work because some of the students only wrote their first names. I have a quick meeting with a parent and then around 2:45 p.m., I go to a Grade 2/3 class to cover for a teacher who has to leave early for basketball.
At the end of the day, I finish up some paperwork and, since it has been a relatively quiet day, I decided to write this post. This brings me to 5 p.m…time to pack up for home.
False alarm.
It is now 5:20 p.m. and there are still students at the school after a rehearsal for the Glee performance. No one has picked them up and we can’t reach their parents. Next up…detouring on the way home to drop them off and make sure someone is home to meet them.
That was my day in the life of an elementary vice principal!

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