Come On In for a Tour of the Principal’s Office
The Edublogs Club Blogging Challenge #2 prompted school leaders to share a glimpse of their classrooms and offices. Many days and weeks, I often spend more time in my office than I do in my own home. It is important to me that the school learning environment is a positive place to work and learn and my office is included in that value.
Let’s take a little tour:
Stop #1: My bookshelves. Leaders are readers. It hurts my soul to hear an educator say they aren’t a reader or that they don’t have a list of favorite professional books. I read voraciously and try to stay current on the best book titles in education. Reading serves as a source of reflection, stress-relief, and motivation! In books I learn new strategies, get inspired to try to ideas, and connect with best practices. I display them proudly in my office and reference them regularly. It is not uncommon for me to loan them to staff members or suggest a specific title to a parent or colleague. I add to the shelves regularly and have had to add shelves in my home and at work to store them all!
Other bookshelves are neatly labeled with magazine dividers. These are labeled and reference its contents for easy locating. Labeling isn’t fancy, just a simple sticker label from a label machine, but labeling binders and organizers allow for me to quickly access anything I may be searching for.
I keep items on my shelves that bring me joy! Positive messages, a vintage typewriter that was gifted to me by my custodian, photos of my family, and gifts from students. Among my favorite gifts that are displayed are a clay elephant that was crafted by a student and carefully presented to me prior to her leaving school. With little to give, that act was a big gesture. Her creativity, passion, and need for a safe learning environment still tug at my heart. The other gift, a small piece of a geode exposing purple crystals of an amethyst, was given to me by a student. She gave me a detailed explanation of its significance: It’s plain and nondescript on the outside, but reveals beauty on the inside. It’s a strong reminder to me about how to approach my students and staff. Everyone shines on the inside if we look for it.
Stop #2: Student Calm Down Area: At the elementary level, there are days and moments when students simply need to take a break from the active learning or social environments in their classrooms for one reason or another. We have a fully equipped counseling office adjacent to the office, but my office also contains a break desk. This desk allows students to complete behavior reflections and homework, but also has sensory materials in the event they need a calming tool. The book is stocked with sensory gadgets that allow students to calm down and refocus their energies on learning. Maze books, coloring books, and other activity books are also stored on this desk.
Stop #3: Seating area: I was sitting at a meeting last year when I suddenly became overwhelmed with the fact that my office had the same sterile and uninviting tone that I didn’t want in the remainder of the building. We had worked hard to attending to details of flexible seating and comfortable working and learning environments, that I had neglected my own office. I splurged this summer and personally bought furniture to achieve the environment I was seeking for my work space. This included a couch, set of chairs and coffee table. It has transformed my meetings and interactions in the office. In times where I am meeting with staff, students or parents, we are more at ease. I can informally chat with a teacher about their classroom instruction or a parent about a concern in a more comfortable manner. We do have a conference area with a standard table, but my preference is often on the couches and chairs in my office where we are all more comfortable and relaxed. With portable digital devices, there isn’t a concern about writing space or needing an area to place a device.
Stop #4: Some Details: There are a few details in my office that bring me a daily smile. One is my autographed photo of the Saved by the Bell cast that was signed by Mr. Belding. The inscription reads “Thanks for being a Principal!” I chuckle at the image of the fictitious principal and members of his student body. It is a daily reminder to have a little fun and enjoy the ride. I also have several positive messages around my office. It keeps my focus on the good things that are going on as well as remind me how to get through the challenging times. My messages are short and simple, but others not picture include a poem given to me by a former co-worker about balancing parenting and working and a thank you card from another administrator about my impact on their professional growth. A picture from my daughter is also proudly colored and displayed that shows her tumbling; an activity that brings her joy.
Stop #5: My Work Area: I do have a traditional desk in my office. It includes my laptop docking station and second monitor! It is VITAL to the efficiency of my work. I can toggle between monitors and view resources or references while completing other tasks. My desk also includes my phone. We have video screens that allow us to collaborate visually with others in the district. Under my phone, I have an organizer that has quickly accessible note cards, “way to go” ribbons for students, and birthday bookmarks for kids. I also keep my water bottle and writing utensils handy!
Stop #6: The Entrance to my Office: My door is adorned with one of my favorite messages to reiterate with students. It also showcases one of my favorite mantras: “It is What it Is!” I try to keep decor on the window in terms of window clings or a wreath to mirror the season or holiday! The door and entrance are often a first impression and I want it to mirror my focus on creating a welcoming and inviting office for staff, students, families, and visitors.
My office is the hub of the work that I do throughout the day. There are days that are long and challenging, but also many that bring me joy, fulfillment and peace. It is a reflection of my personal and professional style and emulates what I value in establishing learning environments that are warm, welcoming and inviting! Thanks for stopping in!