Admin Corner: 6 Ways Your Leadership Makes a Difference

8 Nov
Katie Barr

When I went to “administrator school,” I was full of ideas, energized by the latest research, and  excited to lead a school community in instructional practices. In my early administration years, I spent every July setting the goals and focus for the upcoming year, enjoying the quiet time to notice, reflect, and plan. Working with my school leadership team to develop support systems, master schedules that maximized teacher collaboration, and a new comprehensive career readiness program fed my soul. That all feels like a distant memory though.

My last two summers as a principal were full of last-minute hires, contract negotiations, COVID protocols, and prepping our facilities for students and staff returning to campus. By the time I left my principalship in June 2021, most of my days were spent on tasks and communications far removed from what brought me into school leadership years before.

I think a lot now about how administrators’ daily work has become more about operations and less about leadership—more about managing staff, facilities, and parent expectations than being the school’s lead learner.

I can’t change where we are with public health or education, nor do I know the specific challenges of your context, but being six months out from site administration, I think I can offer some perspective.

No matter how it may feel some days, you are leading, and you’re doing a great job of it! Remember, as you complete whatever tasks required of you, you’re also acting as the leader of your school in many important ways:

  1. Each day, you show up with an intention to serve your staff and your students.
  2. You make connections with the young people who need you.  
  3. You provide comfort, support, and refuge for your staff, who are also likely feeling weary and burnt out.
  4. You take over any class, any time, with no lesson plan and a smile on your face.  
  5. You reassure your parent community that school is THE BEST PLACE for their children to be.
  6. You drop everything to supervise—break, lunch, before school, after school—and you attend sporting, theatrical, and musical events to support your students.

Your superhero strength is your tenacity, your drive, your passion, your heart. You are amazing, and I am here to say THANK YOU!  

Being an administrator is a wild, hard job. You may feel that your efforts go unnoticed, or that people in your life don’t understand what you’re doing or what it all means—but they are noticed, and you are seen. Today, I see you. All of us at Wayfinder see you!

My mentor used to encourage me by reminding me to just put one foot in front of the other, and before I knew it, I had walked a million-mile journey. You are walking that journey right now, one step at a time. Each step is a miracle, and no step is taken alone.

Katie Barr is the Director of Education + Innovation at Wayfinder. She has held a variety of roles throughout her 25 years in education, including classroom teacher, school administrator, county director, school board member, and educational non-profit leader. Her experience has led to a unique understanding and perspective on the educational system. Using Liberatory Design and Design Thinking models, Katie has reenvisioned educational systems at the middle and high school level in the North Bay of California.