I golf. I rarely get invited to golf because I’m a girl but that’s talk for a different day. A golf instructor once gave me excellent advice at the driving range. She said, “Your first 8 balls don’t count. Don’t get too frustrated or stressed and definitely don’t lose hope. Just swing, take note of how you felt, and swing again.” The parallels between this comment and the first month of school are extraordinary. Rather than 8, I would say I usually need 20-30 days to get my groove and even then I might lose it and need to re-evaluate my swing. I try to be kind to myself that first month. I go in each day, swing, and then step back and note how I feel. At the end of 30 days, or sometimes sooner, I start to see patterns of things that are working and things that aren’t. This is when I make big moves. But I have to give myself some days that don’t count in the beginning. I have to get warmed up. There are more balls in my bucket; I’ll focus on those.
- Have a snack or sweet available for parents to munch on. Cheap pretzels and chocolate are my go-to.
- Greet parents at the door. This helps them feel welcome and know that they are in the right place. Standing at the door also keeps me from awkwardly standing at the front of the room while parents arrive.
- Say goodbye at the door. This helps to avoid any parents who might keep me from getting home before I need to wake up again for school the next day.
I want my principal to know me, know what I do, and give me feedback. Here is what I do:
- Visit their office in the morning to say hello. Most of the time it’s super quick as I grab copies or check my mailbox. I don’t make this a time to talk shop unless they initiate it.
- Invite them into the classroom within the first 6 weeks and then try to make a habit out of it. I send a short email invite. They don’t come every time but they do when they can.
- Ask for feedback after each visit.