Principal - September/October 2019 - 50

THE REFLECTIVE PRINCIPAL

often involved conversations with
principals relating to instruction,
operations, personnel, and/or
general philosophy. I was gaining
perspective on what worked and what
I could have done better when I was
a principal. I had positive examples
to lean on from the school leaders
with whom I worked. Furthermore,
I had the experience of running a
medium-sized district's operations,
and I could see the bigger landscape.
The confluence of perspective and
reflection led me to the decision to
go back to the principalship.

I am happily trying my
darndest to take what I
learned from my first tenure
and do better.

they know from where my reasoning
is derived. Next, although I am a
white male, those revelations have
made it easier to maintain credibility
in situations where I might not otherwise have been heard.
One of the hardest things to do as
a principal is to foster a culture in
which the unspoken is mentioned.
As a first-time principal, I didn't
necessarily know how to approach
relationships between adults in a
building. In fact, I stayed away from
potentially sticky situations. There
were certain things I was not sure I
wanted to-or should-handle.
The relationships in a building
can determine day-to-day climate.
If the adults in my building can't
get along, how will the students?
Though many conversations might
be uncomfortable, a collaborative,
joyful work environment in a school
is critical to our children-and, selfishly, to the principal's happiness.

While I can't ensure that my second
time around will be without bumps,
I can say I am happily trying my
darndest to take what I learned
from my first tenure and do better
this time. I have come a long way in
building better communication.
My career path is not typical, so this
pursuit won't be possible for everyone; not many principals get to work
in a district's central office and then
return to a school. Perhaps we ought
to provide opportunities for principals to gain perspective by shadowing
mentors at the central-office level.
Beyond that, I would implore all principals-experienced or novice-to
show up authentically and transparently, and place conversations at the
root of their leadership. Take my
advice: I've been there, done that,
and I'm back again!
Jamie Hitzges is principal of Chicopee
Woods Elementary in Gainesville, Georgia.

Authentic and Open

Now that I have returned, I focus on
authenticity. As a first-time principal, I was not my full, authentic self.
Rather than owning my marginalized experiences and explaining the
rationale for why I did what I did,
I made vague references. After all,
how could I reveal that I was once
a sexually abused, impoverished
student? This is not a conversation
I thought I should have. When I
returned to the principalship, I
vowed that things would be different.
As Susan Scott suggests in her book,
Fierce Conversations, I came out from
behind myself to be who I am.
For me, as the new principal of a
high-poverty, high-diversity elementary school, the last year has been
exhausting and exhilarating. During
my first meeting with faculty and
staff, I shared experiences of tragedy
and triumph, along with the reasons
I was returning to the schoolhouse.
The reaction was overwhelmingly
positive for a couple of reasons. First,
I was able to "own" my authentic self.
When teachers talk to me, they might
not always agree with my stance, but

50

Principal n September/October 2019

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Principal - September/October 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Principal - September/October 2019

From the Editor
Snapshots
5 Things
Getting to Why
A Brighter Future for Personalized Learning
Models of Voice and Choice
When Rural Gets Personal
Research Roundup: The Personal Touch
New Sensation
The Language of Learning
Giving Back, Together
In the Spotlight
Practitioner’s Corner
Early Career
Raising the Bar
The Reflective Principal
Speaking Out
Parents & Schools
NAESP Partners & Advertiser Index
Principal - September/October 2019 - Cover1
Principal - September/October 2019 - Cover2
Principal - September/October 2019 - 1
Principal - September/October 2019 - 2
Principal - September/October 2019 - 3
Principal - September/October 2019 - From the Editor
Principal - September/October 2019 - 5
Principal - September/October 2019 - Snapshots
Principal - September/October 2019 - 7
Principal - September/October 2019 - 5 Things
Principal - September/October 2019 - 9
Principal - September/October 2019 - Getting to Why
Principal - September/October 2019 - 11
Principal - September/October 2019 - 12
Principal - September/October 2019 - 13
Principal - September/October 2019 - 14
Principal - September/October 2019 - 15
Principal - September/October 2019 - A Brighter Future for Personalized Learning
Principal - September/October 2019 - 17
Principal - September/October 2019 - 18
Principal - September/October 2019 - 19
Principal - September/October 2019 - Models of Voice and Choice
Principal - September/October 2019 - 21
Principal - September/October 2019 - 22
Principal - September/October 2019 - 23
Principal - September/October 2019 - When Rural Gets Personal
Principal - September/October 2019 - 25
Principal - September/October 2019 - 26
Principal - September/October 2019 - 27
Principal - September/October 2019 - Research Roundup: The Personal Touch
Principal - September/October 2019 - 29
Principal - September/October 2019 - New Sensation
Principal - September/October 2019 - 31
Principal - September/October 2019 - The Language of Learning
Principal - September/October 2019 - 33
Principal - September/October 2019 - 34
Principal - September/October 2019 - 35
Principal - September/October 2019 - Giving Back, Together
Principal - September/October 2019 - 37
Principal - September/October 2019 - 38
Principal - September/October 2019 - 39
Principal - September/October 2019 - In the Spotlight
Principal - September/October 2019 - 41
Principal - September/October 2019 - Practitioner’s Corner
Principal - September/October 2019 - 43
Principal - September/October 2019 - Early Career
Principal - September/October 2019 - 45
Principal - September/October 2019 - Raising the Bar
Principal - September/October 2019 - 47
Principal - September/October 2019 - The Reflective Principal
Principal - September/October 2019 - 49
Principal - September/October 2019 - 50
Principal - September/October 2019 - 51
Principal - September/October 2019 - Speaking Out
Principal - September/October 2019 - 53
Principal - September/October 2019 - Parents & Schools
Principal - September/October 2019 - NAESP Partners & Advertiser Index
Principal - September/October 2019 - 56
Principal - September/October 2019 - Cover3
Principal - September/October 2019 - Cover4
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