Updated: Sep 12, 2021
Recently, I have been looking into some facts I hate to read. I read in EducationWeek that 45% of principals said that this pandemic was making them want to leave this profession sooner than they planned. I wanted to specifically narrow the numbers down to Assistant Principal retention data so I focused on my own district and crunched some numbers. From what I saw, since 2019, only looking at 8 months of the year January - August, the exit of AP's, has increased by about 48%. Why did I want to know this? To me, it seems like so many of us in administration are feeling the same way, mentally exhausted and I want to help.
Our mental health is so important during this time, but every day we battle between what we are facing in reality and what "face we are saving" to present an increased sense of positivity in order to keep our staff, families, and students "happy". To say that EVERY moment of the day I am positive would be a lie. There are times I fight with myself to fix my face so that they do not see me falling apart. There are so many days I question my purpose. Is this all worth it?
In my position, I have many roles and responsibilities and about 100 staff members who rely on me making the right decision; over 1,100 students who come into the building every day that deserve a safe place and a top notch education. Every day, I battle with whether I am making a difference in ANY of their lives. It. Is. Mentally. Exhausting.
I know I am not alone in this season of severe overwhelm. Administrators near and far are facing very similar struggles. All the while, trying to figure out how to stay the course and keep a positive attitute for those who are looking at us for support. They too are dealing with their own issues, why would I want to impose mine on them?
Today, I read a meme that basically said "if you are overwhelmed, you are lazy and unorganized. Wake up earlier, get an agenda book, create a routine, create boundaries (say no), stick to your schedule, write down AND adhere to your deadlines. You are standing in your own way." I was immediately offended by the time I got to the second line. First of all, PERSON, anyone who knows me knows I am FAR from lazy. I am TIRED! I have MANY agenda books, even created a notebook that could be used for your task list. I may struggle with the boundary part but, anyway, all the rest that was ignorantly stated is BS. Stick to your schedule...That was funny.
As I reflect every day on my own purpose, I keep going back to my first paragraph here about AP retention data. Since I am not alone in this, I wanted to create something for those who are going through this just like me and to encourage those who are thinking of being a part of that roughly 48% who are leaving. That in a nutshell IS my purpose...of course I got into education for the students, but I am also here for the adults. I am able to speak to other others through my blog, my network, my projects, and videos to encourage and show the adults that they are NOT alone. There is so much more I want to do to support the mental health and job retention of my colleagues, because the truth is, many of them are STRUGGLING.
When I come in my home office and I have the opportunity to think about what is next for Alve' Pro., I immediately change my attitude because it is through my ideas and plans to help others, that I get to fill my professional cup. THAT is where my passion is and this pandemic, although life changing in so many negative ways, has made me see things through a slightly different lens. I know that every day I go to work, I have the opportunity to grow, learn, and motivate someone else. That keeps me in a positive place.
Ultimately, we need each other now, more than ever. We need to have each others' backs, be gracious with one another, be open to share our ideas and cheer each other on. We all have a job to do and we are a critical part in the little bit of normalcy our children have. There is no room to stop now, no room to be negative and no room to hold grudges. So, before you go to bed tonight, remind yourself of your purpose. As you walk around your campus tomorrow, smile and keep playing your purpose in your head. YOU got this!