Amy talks about her life and education background (2:29)
How Amy decided she wanted to go into school administration at the age of 18 (4:00)
Amy’s path to becoming a school administrator (5:00)
Some of Amy’s most difficult challenges as a school administrator (6:55)
Dealing with more experienced teachers and admins as a young administrator (11:30)
Some of Amy’s greatest moments as a school administrator (14:40)
The Night Ms. J Rapped (17:00)
The biggest differences in impact between being a teacher vs. being an administrator (20:40)
The best leadership advice Amy has ever received: the compliment sandwich (24:20)
The importance of being a cheerleader for your staff, and encouraging risk-taking (26:35)
Some books Amy recommends for educators (26:55)
Amy explains her school’s story (28:45)
Amy’s app and tech recommendations (29:26)
The Maya Angelou quote that is at the heart of Amy’s leadership style (31:40)
Amy’s #1 piece of advice for working with students (32:25)
Amy’s #1 piece of advice for working with teachers (32:40)
The importance of never giving up on a student (33:25)
The advice Amy would give someone starting out in administration today (39:45)
Books mentioned in this episode
The Power of Branding: Telling Your School’s Story by Tony Sinanis and Joseph M. Sanfelippo
Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
Apps and tools mentioned in this episode
Connect with Amy Fadeji
Bonus: The Night Ms. J Rapped
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Podcast Session #11
Show notes: www.educatorslead.com/amyfadeji
This is the Educators Lead podcast with Jay Willis, Session #11. Let’s go!
Intro: Amy Fadeji is in her fourth year as principal at Penngrove Elementary in Petaluma, California. Amy thrives on reaching out to educators across the country to build a growing network of innovative and inspiring colleagues. After attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and later the University of Southern Mississippi, Amy taught second and third grades for seven years before launching her career in administration. Amy finds great joy spending her days supporting students and teachers in their learning adventures. She lives for deep and meaningful connections with students and enjoys fostering those connections long after students have left her school. She is passionate about modeling and encouraging risk-taking, fostering collaboration, and she delights in helping other administrators and teachers do the same! She enjoys traveling, presenting, learning, and sharing with other educators across the country. And in all of that spare time she has, she also co-hosts Techlandia Radio podcast with Jon Samuelson. So that was quite a mouthful.
Amy: You did great.
Jay: But Amy tell us more a little about yourself.
Amy: Yeah, so thanks so much for having me Jay, I’m really excited to be a part of Educators Lead so yeah I lived in Novato California which is really sweet little town in the bay area. And so I’m close to San Francisco and Napa and Sonoma just enjoy when I can doing some things around the bay area. And you mentioned traveling a little bit. My husband and I love to travel whenever we can find the time and we volunteer with some various organizations and charities that we’re passionate about including an orphanage that’s down in Teavana, Mexico, one of my favorite weeks this summer. So, other than that, I launched my teaching career in Alabama although I’m a born and raised California girl so yeah, I moved, too, that’s a different story. That’s all but I moved to Mobile, Alabama in 2005 to just live with my best friend for a couple of months as what I thought and I thought who’s gonna hire a teacher in December and I ended up teaching ESL at a really sweet elementary school there and then spent the next three years teaching 3rd grade, while I was working on my master’s and then we moved back to California where I taught 2nd grade for 3 years and finally took the plunge into administration.
Jay: Yeah. So tell at what point did you make that decision to move into school leadership?
Amy: So, I actually think that, so I knew weirdly from a really young age that I wanted to be a school leader. So I taught for 7 years before becoming a principal but I think that school leadership was just always something that I enjoy. I felt like it came naturally to me. So as a teacher, I was the teacher who couldn’t put my hand down and would you know we volunteer and be in every community in organizing school wide events and just always found myself so immersed in the things that my students were doing in my classroom but also I would find myself looking at the school with kind of a bigger lens. So I remember like, I guess I don’t know my last year of teaching and I remember I was setting for the school year and I was taping down my name tags and I remember thinking like this might be the last year that I do that. But I, so anyway, but I was actually 18 when I decided I’m gonna be a principal which is yeah unusual I’m sure.
Jay: Yeah, so tell us a little bit about the journey so like you obviously at 18 but I mean you got your undergrad degree right in education?
Amy: Totally. I worry that I just skipped over all these things?
Jay: No. no. You didn’t. I remember you talked about it in a conversation. I just wanna like follow the journey a little bit more, and dig into that like you know from 18 and like what was the path that you took you know from 18 to there…
Amy: Yeah, so basically there was a couple of incidents that happened at school when I was in high school. Which was so long ago but I remember we had 5 assistant principals and a principal at that time and there was something that went down in my senior year and I just, I remember like listening to an announcement on the PA system while I was sitting in my government class and when I was hearing what was being shared, I remember just thinking, you know what I wanna be a leader of the school one day who serves with integrity and passion and enthusiasm and I loved how when you work in a school, you have all these different stakeholders right, so we have the students, the staff and the parents and the community. And so that piece was really appealing to me as well, so that kind of you know get you back there back in the high school days and then I went to go to college for 4 and ½ years and got my teaching credentials there and then while I was in Alabama, I worked on my masters in educational administration and leadership through the University of Southern Mississippi and so that was about a year and a half program where I really was a able to hone some of the you know hopes and desires that I have had for being a school leader.
Jay: So somewhere along the way from teacher to administration and I’m sure there were some ups and downs or maybe some struggles along the way, what was one of your most difficult moments during that journey from classroom teacher to administration?
Amy: Yeah, I think that time management is always a struggle for educators. I mean as a teacher, just spending like hours and hours doing all sorts of amazing teaching things with colleagues and then and even you know when I was at USM which the program there, I may kind of skip over this a little bit Jay so I’ll go back to it. So it was about a year and a half program and just like student-teaching for teachers I feel like it’s the most valuable thing that you can do. I have this crazy internship that was like 500 hours or something obscene while I was also teaching 3rd grade.
Amy: So in that year, like you know that was a difficulty during the program to balance a 3rd grade classroom and then also to be doing the course work in internship where I essentially felt like I was an assistant principal you know on top of the teaching position.
Amy: So that’s kind of, that was the challenging part you know in time management still is a challenge for me as a principal now but as far as the journey to becoming a school administrator, I wish that I had this like, life changing story to share about where the you know, the difficulty was just so overwhelming but luckily there hasn’t really been a moment or an event that stand out for me, that’s you know really huge like that but over the years, I think that some of the areas that have been too hard for me personally are I was hired when I was 29 as the principal of an elementary school with 400 students so knowing that some people just may not take me seriously or respect me simply because I was on the younger side of things. You know that was just something that you kind of carry with you in the back of your mind and even you know, even as a young teacher and a young leader, I always really wanted to glean the wisdom from so many incredible educators and so I think that a part of me worried; like what’s a 45 year old teachers gonna be like, oh my gosh like are you kidding, this is my principal like I have years of experience on her. You know, luckily I think it’s more so with the parents. You know I just joke with people when they say, “You’re so young” I just tell them that I have really good eye cream. And they tried to see that, tried to go from it, from that way. So I think that’s just been something that I’ve been aware of but the biggest like I wouldn’t you know count that as the difficult year or anything but for me and I think that this is something that like it’s taken 3 years or 4 years for me to really come into terms with is that, as a site leader I just, I can’t simply be everything and everyone for my team all the time. So, I am the kind of principal what I mean by that is that or maybe even like I’m the person who I want to be there supporting anyone and everyone who needs it all the time. So personally, I struggle with not being able to be in multiple places at the same time knowing that at times I’m gonna say no to things that people don’t. There are so many days that I will go to school and I have this amazing game plan in mind and I’m ready to just pound out my to do list and then you know, a student crisis happens or a teacher needs back up or someone needs a listening ear and then my entire like plan which I say an arrogant quotes which I don’t even know why I make them anymore. It’s just totally of the window. And so, I know in the back of my mind there are parents waiting for me to return calls. There are teachers that needing things from me, there are students that I want to be checking in with. But having to prioritize my time with circumstances that are beyond my control, that’s still I haven’t quite grasp the way that that can feel.
Amy: And so that’s the real challenge for me. I definitely struggle with letting people down and so that’s where the whole trust and teamwork comes in. and I have to really trust that my team knows that I’m doing my absolute best, that I care deeply about supporting like all of our students and staff needs. So I think that the you know like the daily, the daily struggle when like I wanted to be there for different ways and I wasn’t able to actually do that.
Jay: Right. So back tracking just a little bit so, because I’m sure there are people listening to this podcast now that maybe that they are a little bit younger and they have the aspirations to become a school leader or maybe they’re already in that position, and they’re younger and they struggle with the same thing you’re talking about where they kind of feel like, I don’t know if the eyes of judgement will be the right way to put it but they just kind of feel like you know maybe the older more experienced person is looking at that and like “You know, do you really know what you’re talking about?” So, how do you overcome that? You’re because you know at some point, you just have to do what you feel you’re supposed to do and you can’t concern yourself so much but how did you overcome that or how have you, up to this point?
Amy: Yeah, I think, I think that getting to know your people and being super present with my staff, it was tons of collaboration and conversations and teamwork and time and just having really honest moments like I think one, you know one class that I have was I was really clear about these are the things that I’m really good at and these are the areas where like I can really use some support so Special Education for example is an area where you know as a teacher I had had a handful of students that had IEP’s that I hadn’t really with the exception of taking a class or two, I hadn’t studied a lot with respect to Special Education. I haven’t really had any student scenarios that were really intense or heated or even set through some like difficult IEP’s so just knowing that with like knowing kind of what I was coming to the table with was really helpful for me to be like honest and transparent with people about that so I immediately went to my Special Ed team and shared with them like here’s my experience, here’s these huge areas where I’m really gonna count on you guys. You’re the experts; I’m really gonna lean on your knowledge. And I think that that has something for the whole system as well. You know, like I am not claiming to know everything about you know, X, Y and Z but I know my people who do and I’m gonna fully trust them and lean on them and so I think that that really helped to overcome some of those challenges and then just getting to know families and students. I never really felt like, oh I really have to prove myself. It’s just, it really happen naturally. It’s just kind of even at the back of your mind I think that you now like oh, some people you know, I definitely had people say well, if you had kids you would understand and you know I totally get that like there I, you’re right like I don’t have that experience but what I do know is that I feel like I have 400 kids every single day and you know, and I know that that will feel much different when they’re actually my own but there’s no point in you know arguing with people about like yeah, you’re right like I don’t have that experience that I will certainly give the best that I can with the experiences that I have.
Jay: Yeah, it’s great. So, you’ve been, you know, you’ve been in education for a while and school administration. This is your 4th year, right? So I’m sure you’d have some just amazing stories to share from being a teacher and now being an administrator but what’s been one of your absolute best moments as a school administrator?
Amy: Oh my gosh, there are so many of these moments that happen every single week. I mean just this morning was a perfect example. I got an email last week from an officer with our Petaluma Police Department and the police force was wanting to take some students shopping at Target this morning for a little Christmas cheer and so it was kind of a mad dash to see like there were only ten spots and so I was able to snag 3 of the spots for 3 of my students and as fun as it was to call those parents and talk to the kids and tell them why I selected them… For me, like I wanted to be there with my students so I’m asking the officer and like can I be there? What time should I be there? And he’s like 6:30 Amy and oh my gosh, it’s my first day of Christmas vacation. Are you kidding me? But I was there, you know and so I like getting to go just have these moments there, of there’s nothing like it. And I think like all throughout the week when I get an email from a group of 6th graders, they’re asking if they can teach me like the hottest dance you know or when a student you know, when student come back from the past to visit to say hi I mean, that is just like a huge win for me. And I sometimes kind of wrestle with the thought like, “If you’re a teacher and people don’t come back to see you or you’re a principal and people don’t come back to see you like you know, interesting because I just can’t imagine being an educator and not being connected to my students from the past as well and so those moments are priceless. There was a night last year that I just remember being like so incredibly overwhelmed with the motion and it really, it caught me off guard and I actually blogged about it and the post was called The Night Ms. J Rapped, Ms. J was one of my 6th grade teachers at Penngrove and so we were at our school talent show. It was totally rainy and had it was you know oh my gosh, it was dark, and our staff does an act of course every year and so I was really focused on helping make sure kids run on stage when they were supposed to and making sure that all of our staff members had their costumes for their outfit and all that good stuff and then all of a sudden, I found myself in the audience really because the kids that were sitting in the front were getting wild and crazy so I went to sit down there and hang out with them and all of a sudden, Taylor Swift comes on. And all the 6th grade girls appear on the stage and I’m like I don’t remember seeing this in the program and so the 6th grade girls are after dancing and singing I think it was Shake It Off and all of a sudden here comes Ms. J, my 6th grade teacher and Mrs. Newman my other 6th grade teacher and Ms. J straight up rapping Taylor Swift with all her students by her side. They’re wearing adorable little tutus and basically like I, the way that this night unfolded was just I think that this like one act on the stage was just the culmination of everything that I have been wanting like for my students, for my school, for my staff like I just remember being so like one caught off guard like how awesome the rap of Ms. J was, but I’m so moved by the look on these two little girls faces on either side of her that their teacher was on stage performing with them. And just like you know everything that that’s for teamwork, compassion and you know relationships and inclusion and family and laughter and it was just like I was just so feel of bliss, admiration of love for everything that was happening you know in that moment that was just like oh, principal heaven. Yeah. That’s my moment, my story.
Jay: That’s fun. That’s sounds like a really neat moment. So yes, so when they do those dances in the cafeteria they showed you, do you participate then? Get out there and move from all to see?
Amy: Yes, so we have, we did the Whip/Nae-Nae like a bazillion times and so I was of course scheduling dance practices at lunch for the Whip/Nae-Nae and so anyway and then the whole school did it, we have a school wide dance party which was super fun. Our school actually has been participating in its called Schools in Motion or My School in Motion and so we actually start every morning together. We just started it this year as a whole school community out on the black top and we have staff and parents that are the leaders and we do like 3 or 4 movement routines that are just like choreographed movement routines to super fun songs that we start the day together and so we are little bit of a dance school.
Jay: Yeah, I guess so, that’s probably good at getting your blood flowing early in the morning and yeah, that’s great.
Amy: Yeah, that’s very awesome. So fun were we start the day with everybody to keep and get those brains waken up and all that good stuff.
Jay: It’s smart. That’s good. So, at what, you know obviously from the age of 18, you had wanted to be a school administrator along the path whether you are teacher for a while so what do you noticed, what’s the biggest difference in impact that you have now versus what you had as a teacher?
Amy: That’s a good question. You know I go back and forth on which I prefer, I loved that as an administrator, I’m able to set more of my own schedule so that when I see a priority or a student who needs me, I’m able to kind of make that happen. I remember especially when I was teaching 2nd grade and I had a couple of kids who really needed a lot, required a lot of my time and you have you know 22 other kids that you interact with all the time and I remember like feeling that struggle. I think that the impact as a teacher, I mean a lot of my relationships that I have now with past students are because I was their teacher. And so, I like hands down without a doubt like know that, like students at Penngrove right now, there gonna, like I hope that they remember you, yeah we had a really fun and supportive great principal but I know that they’re gonna, just like who they are, remember those teachers that spent every single day with them and so, I don’t think you know that you can get that day to day like close relationship of building a team as a teacher and you know seeing that throughout the year. That is where it all is and so whatever I can do as an administrator to support my teachers so that we can have 16 classrooms on our campus that are making that huge impact in the lives of kids. Like that’s where I enjoyed putting my focus now, so that I feel like all of our kiddos are getting what they need and I still you know, as principal, I loved being able to be in classrooms every single day and I have some really strong relationships with a lot of students on our campus. You know but I just, there’s nothing like being a teacher with those kids every single day.
Jay: Yeah, yeah so now, I mean it would seem like probably you have a chance to create the same atmosphere that you were able to do in the classroom but you see this an opportunity in a larger scale.
Amy: Yeah, my friend Lisa Hifel who is just an educator who I respected and admires at and love to pieces. She is really sweet. She shared with me one time like “I just loved watching you because like your staff is your class. Like that’s your class now, like you’re pouring into them.” And I had you know, I had felt like that but didn’t think that I had you know, had maybe come to the realization of that’s how I saw things but I you know I do, I do with what you’re saying on the larger scale. Being able to create that culture in that community is so powerful and you know I totally miss the relationship like super close relationships that I had with some of my students and their parents but I still feel like as a leader; I’m able to do a lot of that and being able to help specially those families who are going through really hard times, and to celebrate with you know when things are going right is just on a larger scale is really rewarding.
Jay: Yeah, so I’m kind of switching things up a little bit. I’m gonna roll through some rapid fire questions, if you’re ready for those?
Amy: Ok. Let’s do it.
Jay: Alright. So what’s the best leadership advice you’d ever received?
Amy: Oh my gosh, well you get a lot of advice as a leader whether you ask for it or not.
Jay: I’m sure.
Amy: I think that my friend Erik Sable actually, has really helped me when thinking about having difficult conversations and so I think that in my 1st couple of years as a principal, if I had to have a difficult conversation, I would try to kind of like do a compliment sandwich which still has value I think, like Erik really helped me with like, “Amy, just cut to the chase.”
Jay: Yeah, explain the compliment sandwich to these people listening who are familiar with it.
Amy: Yeah, I think a compliment sandwich is like you know; you do this even with students. It’s like if you have some kind of you know, news that you need to share or give them like a piece of constructive feedback or criticism. You kind of put that in the middle, start with like a positive happy go lucky part and then you give them the critical part and then you end on like a positive note. And so I still, and you know I think that even as a teacher, I was kind of instructed like if you’re gonna have to write something negative on a student’s report card, make sure that you like do it in a form of a compliment sandwich. And so of course like we always always always want to be planning out the positive things that people are doing and celebrating successes but when you know as a leader that you have to have a difficult conversation with someone, I think you know, Erik just really helped me with cutting to the chase so that people hear your intended message. Because when you start with the flowery fluff part which you probably like totally believe what I certainly would because I’m not the person who’s gonna just be kind of filling your bucket unnecessarily but I like then people start hanging on to that and they might leave the conversation like ok, so where was Amy going with this? So I think I tried to be a little bit more direct and really respectful and caring way but take out some of the fluff from time to time so that’s my best leadership advice I said that this year that I really been able to cling to.
Jay: That’s good. What would you say is your biggest strength as a school administrator?
Amy: Oh, my good friend Sheila says that I am quite an encourager so I think just encouraging and supporting risk-taking in students and staff and being a natural leader and the leader of the enthusiasm police. I would say that was my biggest strength.
Jay: That’s great. Do you have a book or two that you’d recommend for other school leaders?
Amy: Definitely, I’m a huge advocate for telling your school’s story. I do that via Twitter. Our school’s Twitter is @pennpanthers but there’s a book that I’ve read and loved and know those authors well. It’s called The Power of Branding: Telling Your School’s Story and it’s by Toni Sinanas and Joseph Sanfelippo and I just think that Toni and Joe do this really amazing job of putting together like the nuts and bolts. Everything that you need to know to get yourself started with telling your school’s story and I think that’s such a missing piece for so many leaders and administrators and we have so much on our plates and we feel like I can’t do one more thing and so I think that Toni and Joe really capture like why this should be like something that you make a priority and so that’s that’s probably my biggest educational recommendation. I also was thinking about books by Mitch Albom the other day because I saw that Mitch has a new book out that I bought for my grandma for Christmas and I was thinking that I remember, reading Tuesday’s with Morrie years ago. I love that book. I’ve passed it on so many people and I should read it again this holiday but I think that what I love about that book is that it’s about relationships and I think that you know, I feel like it’s a tired song and dance sometimes in education but I’m still surprised that how many people leave without having these relationships and so I don’t know, Tuesday’s with Morrie is another classic.
Jay: Yeah, so take away from that first book that you mentioned. What was the title of it again?
Amy: The Power of Branding: Telling Your School’s Story
Jay: So what would you say is your school’s story?
Amy: Our school story is that we are a group who is willing to try new things, take risks, fail together and we’re gonna lean on each other. And just like for us, I want the walls of our school to just be totally like crumbling down. I want people to be able to see what we’re doing to feel welcome, to feel connected to learning that students are doing and teachers are leading them through so our school story is definitely about community and supporting one another and trying new things together.
Jay: Great. Is there a technology tool like an app or software that you’ve recommend to other school leader that they may not be aware of?
Amy: Oh yeah, hopefully everyone’s aware of it, but Twitter is like my number 1. Boxer is a walkie talkie app that is awesome and so you can have am like walkie talkie chats and text and pictures and all that good stuff. And you can do groups so I have like our seven principals, elementary principals in Petaluma, we have a little Boxer group so that I do not want to be my computer waiting email with questions to come through so if I’m on the go, it’s super easy to just like talk out a question or some to text and everyone sees it together. And as far as the classroom goes at Penngrove, we’ve been using Seesaw in our K1 and K2 classes and that is really fantastic app where students can take picture and record their voices and share their work and then parents can see it, can comment; teachers can see it, can comment and see things and leave audio messages back and forth and so to see 6 year olds explain their Math thinking and have their parents feel and they comment, they correct their work and there are teachers as well has been really need to share.
Jay: Well what was that called again?
Amy: It’s called Seesaw.
Jay: Ok. Very good, so if somebody were brand new to Boxer and you know somebody who is aspiring to be an administrator where would you recommend they start with that?
Amy: I would probably like ask some people around you that are already in your network, you know personal learning network, like hey let’s start Boxer chat together. Or asked you know connect on Twitter or like who’s already on Boxer so there are several groups that I’m a part of that have been going for some time but then like I also enjoy having like one on one conversations with you know I’m on a planning committee for a conference coming up and we’re talking back and forth about hey what do you think about this stuff and the others, so finding a couple of people who are interested in trying it with you, or finding a couple of people that are who are already using it, I’m sure you can just Google like Boxer groups for Education. I think there’s like an edcamp which also being planned on Boxer right now, which is just pretty cool. Yeah.
Jay: So, what would you say is your favorite educational quote?
Amy: Maya Angelou, my hope that I don’t totally but sure but she has a quote that says something along the lines of, “People will one day forget what you have said, and they might forget what you did, but they will never ever forget how you made them feel” and so that’s something that I’ve talked with my teachers and staff about a lot is that you know, our students when they leave us, they might not remember all the cool things that we talked them about and all the things we did in the classrooms but they will always remember how they felt when they were on this campus when they were in your spaces and so I think that that’s just a huge like weight that we should carry with us as educators.
Jay: Yeah, what advice do you have for working with the students that you serve in your school?
Amy: To never ever give up on a student no matter what. Plain and simple.
Jay: Yeah. What one piece of advice do you have for working with educators that you lead like the teachers?
Amy: For our teachers, the advice I would give them is just a model what you want in your students and to constantly asked yourself, “If given the choice, would my students wake up every morning and come to my classroom” Would they, if I were to ask any student on this campus, would they be able to say that they’re pumped and just so excited to get in that classroom and learn throughout the day. So I think that’s really good reflective question. I try to ask myself as a school leader and I encourage my staff and my teachers to ask themselves as well.
Jay: Yeah, so I want to go back to this, I was gonna skip it for the sake of time but I feel like I’m doing a disservice but I.
Amy: I told you, I talked a lot.
Jay: No no no. Well, do you have an example when you say never give up on a student? It sounds like there’s probably gonna be a story in there for an example of a time when you didn’t and some greatness that came from that.
Amy: Yeah, I think that you know I think this is just true of humanity that we just never know what people are going through. You know, I think that’s so many of our students faced things at home and in life that we would really surprise as educators to find out about. And so I think that, I think that we just need to carry that with us as people. You know like when I like when I know that when I’m having some personal challenge in my life like it’s a little harder to go to work and it’s a little harder to, you know, face the day and I think that we just get so busy and you know; the rush and the hub at everything that we don’t stop to have that like empathy and kindness and that peace alike that this person might be going through this right now or this person like you know this kid might not had been in breakfast. You know I think that like recently, I had just discovered like a student struggling with something at home that I would have just bet money like there’s no way that that’s happening and so I think that we really need to like hold on to that and cling to that because I think that I gives us a little extra motivation in that little extra push. When a student is like really tired and just dragging and not motivated and it’s really easy to just get frustrated or to say, “You know what, sit on the bench string during recess because you were talking during my class” like that kind of stuff. I think that were doing a huge disservice to the students when we do things like that so I hope that kind of explains a little bit, a little bit more of what I was thinking about.
Amy: Because a lot of students I think like we’re the only people you know that give them hope in their day and you know it’s sad how many times I thought like why are you a parent to someone you know because like it’s I think that are a lot of our students and we’re just like a regular elementary school and so but I think that just so many of our students face things that we can’t give up on them because we might be the only people they have.
Jay: Yeah. And maybe the only person that believes in them.
Amy: Exactly. Totally.
Jay: It’s funny that you think about it because you really don’t get to keep them for super long time and I mean even just during the school year and then it’s really just a few hours a day that you get to make an impact but I have to tell you there’s so many people throughout my schooling that I can go back and point to that had you know just made significant impacts on my life. The teacher who said, you know who took me aside and said, “You are a great writer. I think you should submit this one work for this writing contest” and like nobody had ever told me that up to that point and just so many examples and while you might not think that one thing can make a huge impact. I think that I just think that’s wrong that you have a tremendous opportunity to; you might be that one voice of belief that inspires people to do something great or be at least more than what they would have been if you hadn’t kind of you know injected that into their life at that point.
Amy: Yeah, I think that it’s so like so interesting to we know if later in life when you can ask people like so what did you remember from this class? Or from that like the things that they remember are so interesting to the point your almost like oh my gosh that, did we really do that in my class? I didn’t remember that you know and so that kind of goes back to that whole like quote, about like people are gonna remember the way that they felt like and that’s exactly what you should like people believe in them and you know I have this one student who comes to school pretty disheveled a lot of days and one of our teachers just the other day passed me in the hallway and said, take a peek in that classroom I just separated someone so and so’s hair. and I thought like, are you kidding me like you stopped and took time out of your day and you weren’t teaching and teaching standard this that or the other like you braided this girls hair. And I remember like immediately it took me back to when I was in 2nd grade and I remember sitting on Ms. Cordel’s lap and she would put bows in the girls hair like every Friday in 2nd grade. Like that’s what I remember from 2nd grade. Like I’m sure I learned how to add and subtract as well but I remember that I got to sit on my teachers lap and that she put bows on our hair and allowed us to pick our color and all that and so I just you know its powerful beyond our wildest imagination.
Jay: Yeah, how much more inspired are you to learn how to add and subtract knowing that, you know that teacher just cared enough about you to do that.
Amy: Absolutely. Yeah.
Jay: That’s great. So what’s the best way to connect with you?
Amy: Oh, well, Twitter. I’m on Twitter all the time and so my twitter handle is @mrsfadeji. I wish that I blogged more than I do but I hopefully have a couple, couple blogs that you can find my blog at mrsfadeji.blogspot.com and then besides that I’m travelling around. I have some fun. I’m gonna be in Chicago, Portland and Vegas over the next like 6 weeks.
Jay: Wow! Sounds fun.
Amy: Yeah. I feel really lucky that I get to travel around and do that from time to time on the weekend so.
Jay: Yeah. I think you sent me here the podcast, the twitter for that is ipadsamy, right?
Amy: Oh yeah, John Samuelsson and I so we do Techlandia podcast so that’s one. So his out there in the Twitter room for Techlandia but yeah you can just find me @mrsfadeji.
Jay: Got you. Ok. So the last question and then we’ll wrap up, so if you could go back, if you have a time machine and you could go back to when you’re a teacher and visit yourself and that point, and you had just made the decision, maybe it was even when you’re 18. Can you just go back though and talk to the earlier version, the younger version of you when you’re at that stage in the game. What advice would you give yourself?
Amy: That’s a good one. I totally hate that I gave homework packets. That I assigned some homework packets on Mondays and they were due on Friday’s. That’s a random teaching note to myself that I always like oh my gosh, that is as far as looking back and advice for my school administrator self, just knowing like it’s gonna be intense and it’s going to take a commitment from your whole family and so be sure to surround yourself by those who love you and support you and know just know that the work that you do on a daily basis is impacting lives. And I think if, if you ever find yourself not loving your work, to be true to yourself on that. I share when I travel around and present like if you’re not enjoying your job, the people around you know that, and I think that that’s really you know, good piece of advice for any one for a teacher, for a principal, so I think just like that being true to yourself and if you ever find yourself in a position where you’re not passionate about what you’re doing and you’re not loving it, that you should do something about it.
Jay: That’s great. Very good. Thank you Amy!
Amy: Yeah, Jay I feel like I’m really sappy today, the holiday. Oh my gosh.
Jay: Yeah, this is great. You know, I bring that out in people. So, just kidding, so edu-leaders this has been a great interview today. For the show notes of today’s show and other resources visit educatorslead.com and type the word amy into the search tool to find his show notes. Amy, thanks again for sharing your journey with us today! And that represents another episode of Educators Lead.
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Educators Lead is a podcast created to help launch educators into the next level of leadership. This show is for you if you are interested in educational leadership as an assistant principal, principal, superintendent, teacher or someone who hopes to be a school leader one day. Educators Lead offers inspiration and practical advice to help you lead more effectively. Jay Willis interviews school leaders weekly to discuss why and when these educators made the decision to move into school leadership, challenges along the journey, and stories that made it all worthwhile. Educators Lead is a great resource for any educator looking to make a greater impact.
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