Friday, April 2, 2010

Planning for Maternity Leave

This has been quite an interesting and fast-paced year. I haven't kept up to date with this blog or my PLN on twitter and other blogs, because I've made it a goal to get home in the evenings and have a life with my family. I am excited to share that we will be adding to our family, with my due date in early May. While this is exciting, it is also very overwhelming, because planning for my maternity leave is not the same as when I was a classroom teacher.

Due to the small size of our district and the timing of my expected arrival, we will not be hiring anyone to fill my shoes. Instead, we are being creative with the people and resources that we have. One benefit of having all K-12 in one large building is that the Middle/High School administrators and Superintendent will be able to assist in the elementary building if a serious discipline or other incident should occur. I am also fortunate to have a teacher that is working on her administrative degree and completing her internship hours under my supervision this spring and summer. I have been utilizing her this past month to assist with planning for summer school and end of the year events at school. I will also be relying on her to check my phone messages each day during my absence and either return the phone calls or pass them onto an administrator.

There will be some tasks that I plan to come into the office on evenings/weekends during my maternity leave to complete and will be attending several end of year events for staff and students. I only live a mile from the school, so it will be easy for me to pop in and out as needed. I am only planning to take off five weeks for this maternity leave (using only my sick and vacation days) and then return during summer school.

Have any other administrators taken a maternity leave? What tips/advice can you offer?

Long-Term Plans

Here's my February article in NAESP's Mentor Center:

In my first year as principal at our school, I often felt stressed and overwhelmed at the amount of work needed to get our school on the right path. I formed a leadership team, created time for grade-level meetings, established professional learning communities, and began educating staff on response to intervention. In February 2009, I attended a statewide RTI summit; however, since our school was so behind on the path to having any sort of RTI plan, I felt out of place and overwhelmed by the summit sessions.

We started small at our school with a voluntary book study over the summer and then formed an RTI team in the fall to attend additional RTI trainings to learn together, present to staff, and begin creating a plan for our school.

Last month, I attended another state conference and attended many sessions on RTI again. This time, I was relieved and reassured as I listened to speakers and saw what other schools in the state are implementing because I could finally identify with what some of the other schools are doing. Even though we still have a lot of work to do, I feel like we are on the right path now and are making some positive changes to impact our students.

The difficult part of this process is remembering that change is a process and it won’t happen overnight. The literature I’ve read says this is a two- to three-year process. This is also a major change in both philosophy and practice for many teachers.

How do you keep the process moving forward with momentum, but not too fast to overwhelm staff?