Today marks my first official day as your new Executive Director. And this marks the first of what will be a return to the “MESPA Monday Memo,” a message you can expect to receive weekly from me (biweekly in the summer). The Memo will include news about upcoming offerings, updates about MESPA, and a reflection or commentary of interest to principals. I welcome your suggestions for ideas and topics.
During this year of transition, as we continue to work toward a merger with the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators Association (MSSAA), MESPA will continue to provide professional development and support for elementary principals. In the coming weeks, I will provide updates on specific offerings currently in the works for the 2016-17 school year.
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead MESPA during this time of transition. I am passionate about the principalship and deeply committed to supporting all of you.
The Principalship as “Good Work”
Summer is a time of reflection and renewal for educators. This summer has been a particularly reflective time for me as I move into a new role after working as a principal in both suburban and urban Massachusetts schools for the past 27 years. I have been thinking about what I have loved, what I have found challenging, and what I have needed in order to feel nourished and stay fresh.
My thinking brought me back to a piece by Daniel Goleman (of “Emotional Intelligence” fame) in which he describes work by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner to identify what constitutes “good work” (
“It May Be a Good Job, but Is It ‘Good Work’?” New York Times 11/26/2008).
Goleman and Gardner suggest there are three questions we can ask about our jobs to evaluate their “good-work” level:
- Does the work fit your values?
- Does the work evoke excellence; are you highly competent and effective at what you do?
- Does the work bring you that subjective barometer of engagement, joy?
This last question about engagement and joy is the one that resonated with me. What makes us feel engaged in our work? How do we find joy? For me, I have found engagement in the intellectual stimulation and reflection that comes from professional learning - work that cuts across grade levels and curricular areas. And I have found joy in the relationships built over time with children, their families and faculty. As you reflect on your work this summer, I encourage you to think about these questions for yourself.
- What aspects of your work do you care most about? What best fits your values?
- In what areas of your work do you feel a sense of competence? What are areas you would like support in developing? And how can MESPA support you in doing so?
- And, most important, where do YOU find engagement and joy? And how can you spend more time on what brings you joy?
May your summer include your preferred mix of relaxation, adventure and reflection. And may you find engagement and joy in the year ahead.