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Blog: Friday, February 28th, 2020

A Week in the Life of a Principal - What do you do?

By Linda Pollastretti

Last week I was asked by a student “so what DO you do?”   A frequent question from staff, parents and especially students.  I responded with lead the staff, work on programs, ensure the safe and orderly running of the building, make sure we comply with policy, procedures and the school act – all of which are vague statements to the students.  So, in response here’s what  one week looks like for Principal Pollastretti. 

Monday

Every Monday starts with an admin team meeting where we review the week, align our calendars and talk about upcoming activities, events, and school direction.  For example, we discussed the grad parent meeting on Tuesday and the Grad Breakfast on Thursday as well as programming for two unique students.  Throughout the day, I signed 7 non-catchment forms for students who live in the Rick Hansen catchment and all are attending Abby Sr. and want to stay for friends.  At the same time, investigating a change.org petition and finding out the creators to solve an inappropriate comment made online. Next, lunch time supervision where I talked with several students about the school, their hoodies, and checked in with our fantastic volunteers in the Snack Shack.  After lunch, we celebrated Mrs. Des Roches’ (our amazing Student Information Secretary) birthday with Vietnamese food.  Directly after lunch, I met with Mrs. Powers, District VP of English Language Learners (ELL), to discuss our Ever ELL and new ELL students and look at creating a new model at Hansen next year to better support our ELL students and ensure their success.  End of day, I quickly put on my jacket and outside for parking patrol while waving at parents and saying goodbye to students.  From 3-4:40 was our School Based Team Meeting where the Learning Services Team and teacher get together to help support students and teachers.    From there, I headed home.   Monday nights for me include trying to read a chapter or two of an instructional or leadership book.  Right now, I am reading Hacking School Discipline. 

Tuesday

Every Tuesday begins with a Counsellor/ Admin meeting where we discuss specific concerns, problems or upcoming activities with the counsellor team.  This week we discussed all students who are in jeopardy of not graduating, plus the School of Business and Science Year 1 applications (which are due to the office by Friday) and students needs/ success in year 2.   Then I spent an hour walking in and out of classes observing teaching, and learning.  For me, the most important part of my day/ week are my classroom observations and teacher conversations that follow.  Then, I worked on collecting, sorting and analyzing Semester 1 Failure rates by class and teacher. Off to lunch supervision which included a hallway dance off and some conversations about lunch choices. The afternoon was spent drafting an ELL model for next year based on the conversation of Monday.   I put our thoughts, and ideas into a working document which I then shared with my VP’s and Counsellors asking for their feedback at next week’s meetings. Headed home at 4.30pm.   Mr. Braich was back at school at 6:30pm for a parent meeting and 7pm Grad Parent meeting.

Wednesday

Happy Pink Shirt Day.  It was a pleasure to see the number of staff and students who wore pink in support of anti-bullying.  No meeting planned for today, so I got to work drafting a professional development plan for the school for next year including conversations via phone with Mr. DeWit, former Principal Rick Hansen, and Mrs. Middleton, Curriculum Helping Teacher regarding the School of Science and Business Internships and University of the Fraser Valley courses  and the curriculum redesign and implementation at secondary.    Speaking with and dialoguing with educators is always stimulating to my own understanding of educational leadership.  Lunch time supervision included the small gym and watching the boys play basketball while buying a couple of Cotton Candy to support the leadership programs’ anti-bullying campaign.   After lunch, I took the opportunity to draft Rick Hansen’s Street Level Data Action plan and share with our admin team and senior management.  With a calm moment, I managed to declutter my desk and file some of the never-ending paperwork.  With a Strategic Planning Meeting at 6:30, I checked in with our teachers who were also attending.  Finally, I wished Ms. Muller the best of luck at her Environmental Mind Grind team competition at Seven Oaks Mall.  For the strategic plan meeting at Abby Sr., I sat at table 9 with the District DPAC chair, and three fantastic teachers/ moms.  We interacted within the Thought Stream interface to provide feedback on “Engaging Opportunities” within the Strategic Plan.  It was a fast paced two hours and I enjoyed their conversations and insight.  I headed home at 8:30pm.

Thursday

Thursday began early with a 5am wake up and off to school while picking up Mrs. McAleese as we served pancakes, eggs, sausage, and hash browns to  our grade 12 students who would arrive at 7:30am.  We also updated our social media to announce the 1st place finish of our Global Awareness team at the Environmental Mind Grind.   Next, I updated the website to reflect our current course planning information and announcements.  Lunch included tracking down a student who left without permission and conversations with our fantastic Police Liaison Officer, Cst. Dyck then off to buy a cookie for our Foods program Canuck Place campaign.   At 1pm, I gave a tour of the building to 4 new students currently in grade 8 and answered parent questions while walking around the school and talking about what learning looks like at Hansen. Back into the office, I signed a couple of forms for students taking trips to India and processed some school payments.  Then off to a parent meeting regarding a student/ teacher concern.  Finally, my day ended at 4pm. 

Friday

Friday began with a 7am Character Abbotsford Board meeting which included planning for the upcoming Character Conference in October 2020 plus discussion around future board meetings and strategic plan.   All while texting with my VPs to arrange for staffing shortages in Teacher Replacements (TTOCs) and Education Assistant Replacements (TEAOCs).  Back on site, I signed off on a few more non-catchments and wrote a reference letter for one of our grade 12 students scholarship applications.  Then into Flex block were its all hands-on deck to ensure that all students make their way to their choice of classrooms for extra time with one of their 4 teachers.  The block before lunch saw me teaching a foods class (or attempting my best version of) covering one of teachers who is away with no replacement.  Now into lunch supervision which was a busy one with several students/ groups needing attention.  The afternoon featured covering as a TTOC in two more classrooms.  With support from our EAs and PT’s, I was able to speak with Principal Hutchinson at Abbotsford Virtual School about Blended Learning at Hansen and return a couple of phone calls.  The day ended with a meeting with Hansen admin team to talk about student needs that came up today and to debrief a busy day for my awesome VPs Mr. Hendricks and Mr. Braich.  Then I updated the school website with a News story on the 1st place of our Global Awareness Team at the Environmental Mind Grind and this Blog article. Before leaving, I always update the school sign and take a walk around the exterior of the building.

And that my friends are what  week in the Principal’s Chair really looks like.