09
MAR
2017

Am I Really Doing This?

By Mike Pinto, IPLI Cohort #4 Mentor & Principal at James Cole Elementary

Principals Do thatHave you ever had a moment during your day when you catch yourself and think, “Wait! Is this really me doing this or is this a dream?” There are moments like this when you think maybe you are just on the outside looking in on a sitcom or in some cases a very bad horror movie because you can’t believe you are actually doing what you are
doing.

I had a moment like this yesterday with a teacher.  It was one of those moments involving of all things an ISTEP test and a misplaced label. You see the teacher
has two students with the same first name and same first letter of their last name who had labels switched around on a test.  Luckily the error was caught before damage was done, but we were stuck with two tests with the wrong labels which had been affixed several days ago.  As we used our pincer-like fingernail grip and peeled the label back like an archaeologist unearthing a rare and earth-shattering find, the paper began to peel along with the label.  It was at that moment that the teacher said to me, “Hot air will help the situation,” which caused her to hold the booklet and label to her mouth and breathe out hot air as she peeled (It’s not like we had a hair dryer handy). She was finding success and like a lemming, I followed suit. Within 30 seconds the labels were about off as we huffed, puffed, peeled, and finessed.  It was at this moment that I thought, “Am I really doing this?” It was a bit surreal and one of those moments we have on occasion in our day that catches us both off guard and is at the same time humorous.

Between the two of us we have about 330 college credit hours and several advanced degrees to our names. What I appreciated at that moment was that the solution was simple and neither of us found it above ourselves to breathe out deeply to solve the problem.

One of my mentors used to laugh as she pushed the vacuum across the carpeted floors of her school after carnival and say, “I am the instructional leader of this school.”  It’s funny because there are moments when I think if folks saw our actions out of context they might think, “What is going on here? Are they really doing this?” I am certain if the superintendent had walked into my office at that moment and witnessed us exhaling as we peeled, he might stop a minute and take pause.  Because, out of context the situation would have looked not just out of place, it would have looked plain bizarre.  When put together into context, the view becomes a little clearer and the method behind the madness becomes a little less fuzzy.

You are going to have moments like this during your day when you are in the midst of something and pause to think, “Am I really doing this?” Appreciate those moments of self-reflection for what they are because you probably are in the throes of something both unique and memorable. Then in most cases, continue on your task; because, sometimes the best solution doesn’t come from a book. It comes from some hot breath on a label and the patience to peel away all that ails you slowly and methodically.

Have a memorable day today!