By Jack Birmingham, IPLI Mentor and Assistant Superintendent at Union Township School Corporation
Many people ask this question often. You may have even asked that question to a friend or family member. The answers vary depending on the mindset of the person working out! Those who are working out for the first time in forever or look to transform their physical fitness in a few weeks will say, “I nearly died” or “why am I doing this?” Some will even say, “it was exactly what I needed!” (Those souls are in a category all by themselves.) No matter the response, you will rarely hear them answer, “it was relaxing and peaceful like I was sitting at the beach!” However, they all seem to return to the workouts and constantly look to see the physical and mental transformation over time.
This past school year has been the workout of ALL workouts for our building leaders, at times more challenging than 100 stomach crunches or a 10-mile run. So as you begin to wind down the school year, now is the time to reflect to see how the Covid-19 school year has transformed you and your leadership skills. There have been times where you have had to make decisions on the fly, and then in a matter of days or weeks, change yet again. “Unprecedented” is a term that we have been accustomed to hearing. Yet, as a building leader, you had to utilize every tool in your leadership belt to handle the year. Now the good thing is next year (hopefully), we can stop with the unprecedented terminology. We may be saying, “well, it is rough, but it is not like 2020!”
As you reflect on how you have grown as a leader this year, take note of the times you needed to strengthen your organizational skills to handle hybrid learning. Or you might work on toning up your relational skills by showing grace and support to staff members who were struggling emotionally with the effects of the pandemic. Additionally, as the leader, you were looked at for leadership more than ever to address the unknown. Somehow, someway, you were thrust into that role of displaying leadership skills you never realized you had! Much like the muscles, you begin to feel after those P90X workouts!!!
So after you complete these last few tough “laps” of the school year, take time to sit back, reflect and plan to develop some of the skills that this challenging workout of a school year showed for you. Yes, it’s ok to look in the mirror, as some of the workout friends love doing this! You will see a more decisive, more resilient leader that will be showing incredible results from this past school year, who is ready for their next “workout” in 21-22. Let’s hope it is not quite the workout we just had, but if it is, you will be ready!