Whew, I can recall my first year as an Assistant Principal, it was HARD. There is no position you could have prior to becoming an AP that would prepare you enough for the tasks you will face each day on this job. Even with the wonderful experiences I was afforded, the amazing examples of leadership I had, I could not have imagined the things I clearly had no idea I would need to know how to do. Each day, you literally walk into a building where you have no view of who or what will be waiting for you. You are responsible for children, adults, and you are essentially managing an operation. Honestly, the pressure comes from everywhere.
One of the biggest challenges as an AP that I have experienced AND heard from others is the challenge of meeting everyone's expectations. Whether that be the expectations of your teachers, parents, your principal or heck even your own. Everyone is expecting SOMETHING from you and that pressure is tough. At times more than others. I could tell you how I have gone from a feeling of accomplishment to complete defeat by the reaction of one person.
Over the span of my first year and a half, I recall driving home in tears numerous times. Most of those tears came from someone expecting something ELSE from me. More. Different. Less. Whatever it may have been, the root of the tears was that someone expected ME to do something else after I thought I did something great. "I would not have handled it that way!" That is NOT what you want to hear after you just finished taking care of an emergent situation involving teachers and students. What do you say to that? You don't. You deflate. You completely deflate because you were expected to do something DIFFERENT.
In life, we try not to put such high expectations on our relationships, children, family, friends...so that we can save our feelings from disappointment. In this job, EVERYONE is expecting you to handle things "the right way" "the first time" and if you don't, if you do something that just ONE person does not agree with, it can really, really break you down.
NO, we will NOT please everyone, but I know that we try. We try to make our parents feel confident that they are leaving their children with us, trusting us to teach, protect them and make the BEST decisions, solve every problem. We try to support our teachers we mentor, motivate and create an environment where they enjoy coming to work. We try to be the perfect "assistant" while managing our daily tasks that at times we just can. not. get. done.
The beauty in expectations is that they are just opinions from someone else. They do NOT define you. So, if you are challenged with feeling like you just are "not good enough", "you cannot please everyone", and are always being criticized...trust me when I say, YOU ARE...YOU WON'T...and YOU WILL BE...it is a part of the job. There will not be a time when you do not feel what I just described in one way or another, because we are dealing with people. With people, come expectations...whether you meet them or not, tomorrow is another day. Another day to learn from your mistakes, improve on your skills and continue to grow in confidence that you are doing a great job.
So, when someone says to you, "I would not have handled it that way!" Ask them, "how would you have handled it?" Listen to their advice and walk away. You can either take it, or leave it. That is up to you. But do NOT let them defeat you because their expectations do NOT define you!