Ready or Not, Here it Comes!

Tracy Wilson's picture

Written by Tracy Wilson, Principal, Grand Haven High School and Past President of the MASSP Board of Directors

It's just about that time: the start of another school year. Are you ready? Most of us go through the "pre-season" checklist: master schedule, student schedules, locker assignments, lunches assigned, orientation planning, welcome back staff letter, opening staff meeting agenda, building inspections…the list goes on and on. But how many of you actually include YOURSELF in that checklist of items to prepare for and get ready for another school year? I'm just as guilty as the rest of you overachieving, self-motivated, perfectionist building leaders. The role of a building principal is an enormous responsibility and if we don't include ourselves in the preparation of another school year, the treadmill will chew us up and spit us out.

I share these thoughts because I have been known to burn the candle on every end possible and leave very little time for myself. While attending the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) conference last school year, I sat in a session that inspired me and has hung around the back of my mind since. The session was led by Dr. Adam L. Saenz and centered on his book The Power of a Teacher: Restoring Hope and Well-Being to Change Lives. I reached out to Dr. Saenz and received a copy of this book for each member of my leadership team. The entire group then read the book and used it to kick-off our summer retreat.

The overarching message of Dr. Saenz's book focuses on the idea that our ability to lead, no matter what role we are in, is only as good as our overall well-being. He described a person's overall well-being by breaking it into five key areas: occupational, emotional, financial, spiritual, and physical. All five of these areas are interconnected and each must be taken care of in order to be at peak performance. Taking the time to honestly assess yourself in each of these key areas can help you determine where your personal growth needs to be focused. As a leadership team, we determined that this information was so valuable that we now plan to share it with our entire staff.

Maintaining personal and professional balance is a critical component to not only being an effective leader, but also modeling the importance of this for our staff. As you start a new school year, I challenge you to set boundaries that allow you to maintain a healthy balance between your professional and personal lives, which will support your overall well-being. No one else is going to do this for you – and your students, staff, community and family deserve a healthy you!