Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Being an Introverted Administrator

I have gone WAY out of my comfort zone this year.

In previous posts, I have shared that I have transferred buildings. Did I mention that I am INTJ - the rarest of the personality types? Going from a building of 800 students to a building of close to 1400 students has been an adjustment. How have I coped? I'll be honest, it wasn't easy at first; but now I feel like I'm thriving!

I took advantages of two opportunities during the summer.
  • I already knew the principal I was working for. We worked together in our master's and doctoral programs. We did need to adjust the parameters of our relationship, but it was part of the change process. 
  • I had the month of July to get to know the building and core staff. The master schedule was incomplete, so I had to work through the one month I normally get off to work on it. However, it was time well spent! I got to know the core office staff and the custodial team, and they got to know me. I know I'm a slow to warm up personality, but I do warm up to people. 
By the time August came around, I had begun to form a relationship with these key stakeholders. I was comfortable in the building, and ready to meet the teachers, students, and parents.

Part of being a successful INTJ is knowing my own strengths and weaknesses. My strength is that I'm a servant leader. I lead by example, inspect what I expect, and make sure those I work with have all the resources they need to be successful. In addition, I make sure I take every opportunity I can to put myself out there, even if the opportunity goes beyond my comfort zone.

Opportunity #1 - Let's take orientation night for example. I knew I needed to use my strengths to help establish my credibility and relationship with parents. During orientation night, students and parents get their schedules and have the opportunity to walk the building. Some students don't get the schedule they requested. The lines for schedule changes were backed up, so I started helping parents and students out with their schedules. This gave me the opportunity to work one on one with parents and students, to get to know them, and to hear their opinions of the school. It also gave them the opportunity to know me.

Opportunity #2 - The first PLC meeting - So...the teachers have arrived back at school, and this is my first time getting to know them as a team. I had one shot to make a good first impression. I don't talk a lot, so I don't waste a lot of time. I made sure I developed a solid PLC agenda that set the stage for meetings to come. It included opportunities for teachers to get to know my philosophy, to understand how our meetings were going to function, and to see that the framework we were building would work for future meetings to come. Instead of doing all the talking during this initial meeting, I introduced myself, talked a little about my background, and then started asking open-ended questions which led to rich, productive discussion among the teachers. I actually had teachers coming up to me saying they appreciated that meeting because they felt they had a voice in the decision making process, and that they looked forward to future meetings.

The most important thing I've learned about being an introverted administrator is that I need to be true to myself. Going into a potentially stressful situation such as an angry parent meeting, job interview, or a tough teacher conversation pretending to be something I'm not is a recipe for disaster. If I enter these situations well prepared, ready to listen, and ready to respond; I'm likely to succeed. If I don't, I'm likely to fail, and I have no one to blame for that but myself.

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