General Leadership Uncategorized

Work / Life Balance

“Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress: Working hard for something we love is called passion.”

Simon Sinek

As educators, we are always looking for ways to create balance in our lives with the amount of work we put into our positions and the amount of ‘living’ we do outside of school.  I wish I could say I have a magic formula and solution to this quandary, but I amel human, and honestly, there is no perfect formula for work/life balance. I have two children, a partner, and I work full time.  I have my days and weeks (and months) where I barely know what is up and what is down. But, as I get older and wiser, I am realizing that the daily grind and sacrifices that I have allowed work to take over in my life is a problem. And I have begun to re-invent the way I look at my career, happiness, and health. 

Simon Sinek eloquently speaks about stress versus passion, I have decided that I am passionate about my own health. When I am healthy, everything around me seems to flow with more clarity and I tend to make fewer mistakes.  Even on days where there are crises, I am able to clearly look at the problems and come up with quick and effective solutions. When I do not take care of myself, my job starts to feel more difficult and grueling and I am not the best mother and partner that I can be.

Forbes shared an article about top tips in work-balance, many of which I grasped when seeing that my happiness level in my job was decreasing and my effectiveness and positivity at home was plummeting (  I decided that no one else was going to change something in my life to make it better. My school was not going to give up many of the initiatives or expectations that they have.  My family was not going to start doing everything for me to make me feel better. I had to be the one to change, and the first thing I did was make me and my health a priority.

I used to exercise when I could fit into my schedule or at times that I preferred, such as mornings.  When I had a friend continuously ask me to take a walk with her or take laps in the pool together after school, I often said “No, that is not a good time for me to workout, I like to workout before school.”  Many mornings, I did not want to get up to workout and I was missing the opportunity to have someone to workout with. So, instead, I started to say “Yes.” She began asking me to join her for hikes and I said “Yes.”  When we begin to say yes to healthy things that help us connect, good things start to happen.

Seeing the positive results from prioritizing health, I began to set new goals for myself.  I put mindfulness and yoga into my weekly schedule. I picked up a few new hobbies or activities such as pottery and glass cutting. These activities are a positive outlet for my stress and keep me grounded to always remember the things that are important to me.  

I must say, I am more positive, feel healthier, and I enjoy my job more because of these changes.  I still work some long hours and have some stressful periods of time, but I more clear-headed and have more to look forward to when I am not at work.  

Check out the following articles to help you on your journey to finding more health and happiness in life:

8 Ways to Improve Your Work-Life Balance Today:

6 Tips For Better Work-Life Balance:

Grappling with Work-Life Balance:

General Leadership


“A good intention, with a bad approach, often leads to a poor result.”

Thomas Edison

We often find ourselves in a position where we would like to share a new idea or concept with a team of educators and we are hoping it will be well received.  Or maybe we feel it is time for a change and we want to offer a new way of doing something and hope the idea will be accepted by others. In leadership, we often hear about teacher buy-in and we are shown ways to lead meetings or work with others.  Even if we have all of the skills to lead a meeting and generate ideas with teachers, it will not be successful if we do not have the right approach.

I have been in meetings where the leader talked over the teachers as they were talking.  I have worked with a leader that started a meeting by saying “We have only 15 minutes to accomplish A, B, and C, so here is what we will be doing…”, and I have been in meetings that were timed, with a timer and when someone tried to ask a question, they were told “No questions. This is not the right time to do that!”.  The meeting goals were accomplished, but after the meetings many members were talking about how offended and turned off they were to attend another meeting with that leader. We are always going to have things that we need to share with others or moments where there are tight deadlines and much needs to get accomplished.  There are ways we can do that with our voice, attitude, and, especially, with help from others.  

Voice and words can make or break how we run a meeting.  The same idea of “We have only 15 minutes…” can be said in a way that is respectful and received well by others.  The meeting can begin by sharing what needs to be accomplished and then mention the short time to meet. “Okay all, we are hoping to have a plan for this child that involves all stakeholders and we only have 15 minutes to do this.  Does anyone have an idea for how we can stay on task to accomplish this goal in the given time?” Most likely, others will offer to be a timekeeper, recorder, norm the way to share ideas, etc (and that happens within about 2 minutes).  Now, teachers understand the guidelines of the meeting, but it did not have to come from you, the leader, or in a way that will stress out others. Eventually, if this is the way you lead meetings, it will become natural for others to feel they are helping to lead the meeting and they will offer to be a timekeeper, note taker, or planner. 

Another way to approach a meeting is with our attitude.  If we have the attitude that things are positive and we are working with highly capable educators, others will take on the same attitude.  When teachers are empowered in a meeting to share ideas, express their feelings, and feel validated as members, they will want to actively participate.  It is our role to listen more and talk less. When questions are asked at a time that is not ideal, it is okay to nicely say, “Let’s hold off on asking questions until after this portion of the meeting is through.”  When being respectful, teachers will be more thoughtful and engaged and will begin to model this type of wording with their colleagues.  

When approaching a stressful meeting or situation, it is important to involve a team of teachers to lead the meeting. If you know you have a difficult meeting coming up, ask a teacher if they have any ideas of how to best approach the meeting.  Instead of putting the task fully on your shoulders as a leader, ask another teacher to start a portion of the meeting. I have found that meetings that are led by organized and competent teachers tend to be more interesting and show the teacher leadership in a school.  The administrator does not need to be the one who leads the meetings each time, especially in a committee. Choose some of the more passionate and strong teachers to take ownership over parts of the meeting, which helps take attention away from you. It is often our goal that teachers view their relationship with educational leaders not as top-down but as a supportive position that can help teachers grow their own leadership skills. 

Teachers may not remember all of the things that are said in a meeting or feel like they had much to offer, but they will remember how they felt when they left the meeting.  Let’s hope they feel valued, listened to, and respected.


The Job Search

It’s amazing how stressful it is to search for a leadership position.  Many of us have the same story where we start by searching for an admin position and we are open to searching for a position that we are currently in (ie. homeroom teacher, middle school math, counselor).  Having two options is comforting and feels like a safety net when it comes time to tell our current schools that we are not renewing our contracts. There is one big problem with this, more of our experience, and potentially our talents, are with the current position.  We are often interviewed and considered for a non-administration position (sometimes with the promise that we will be seriously considered for any future openings) or we are often told on paper or in person that we lack the amount of years of experience or skill sets that the school is looking for in a leadership position.  

So, what is the solution to this problem?  Just cut the cords and take the leap. Do not open yourself to get a position in the career that you have already had. Only apply for the leadership positions.  We need to be prepared for the rejection that is going to come our way as we search for the school that is willing to have faith in a new leader. We need to know that there will be many schools that will not even look our way when they see our CVs.  Some schools that we interview with will seem like the perfect fits, but they do not call us for a second or third interview. The interesting thing is that the majority of educational leaders in schools share the same story. Interview after interview of rejections.  You will find schools that you are sure will give you an interview and not even make it through the first round.

In some ways, I feel that this rejection piece serves a purpose.  After receiving several rejections, even within my own school, I started to ask more questions to the ones who had interviewed me for the positions.  “What were my strengths that you noticed?” “What were the growth areas or reasons why I was not chosen for the position?” I did not accept “We went a different direction.” I asked for details of how I can become a more well-rounded leader to be considered in the future.  One of the greatest gifts I received from the rejection was that of self-reflection. I realized that I had holes that needed to be filled with new learning and more practice.

Now, heading into a new round of applications, interviews, and hopefully my first leadership position, I feel a little more confident.  Yes, I felt quite stripped of my pride at the time of hearing that I did not get the second interview or the position, but now I am better prepared. I have learned new vocabulary for speaking about the way I coach others.  I have gone out of my way to better understand the complexities of curriculum and standards and how you create teacher buy-in and opportunities for teacher input to ensure success while implementing new curriculum. If I do not get the next interview, I will be asking questions to find out what I am missing or how I can improve myself in the process.

I am far from fully prepared for my first position, but I am more confident than ever that I have the capacity to continue to grow and learn in the new position and seek out opportunities to fill the holes to be a better leader.  

For all of you who have embarked on the journey of finding that first position or who are about to, know that you are not alone.  We will rise up from the rejections and find the right school to help build us to be the best leader that we can be.