Day in the Life: Principal Manuel Adrianzen
Principal Manuel Adrianzen of Alfred Nobel Elementary School has never stopped learning and improving his practice. See how his continuous reflection plays out in his typical day.
I always believe that, as a leader, you have to be the first one in the building. I think this comes from my experience in the Navy. I know some of my teachers tried to beat me here for many years. I used come in at 5:30 a.m., but now in my ninth year at Nobel, I come in closer to 6:30 a.m. The first thing I do when I get o school is look for a black folder on my desk. If it’s there, then I’ll spend about 20 to 30 minutes signing the paperwork inside: field trip forms, requests from teachers — whatever my teachers need. Then I check my email and set my priorities for the day.
I always want to be outside or in the hallway, greeting my students and getting a sense of how they’re feeling. That’s been my priority since I was a teacher. I greet students when they walk into the building and talk to parents.
Once the day starts, I like to visit classrooms. One of my goals for this year is to get into classrooms more — I’ve walked away from that a bit the past few years and my teachers sense it. They say, “Why aren’t you here? I want you to be here more.” I’ve promised them that I’m going to do that. I’m doing the Summer Design Program time management track for National SAM Innovations Project, which will help refocus my time. I want to prioritize the most important parts of my job — getting into the classroom and supporting teachers, not for evaluative purposes, but to be a thought partner and to help with unit and lesson plans. Wherever I can help, that’s where I want to be.
Providing a Space for Teachers
Throughout the day, parents and teachers drop by my office for various reasons. Sometimes teachers just need a place to sit. They’ll come to my office and say, “I just need minute,” and not even talk. I have a tremendous staff, and they deserve a space to just sit and get away. We didn’t have a teachers’ lounge before, and I promised them one so that they can have a space to eat their lunches and talk to each other. So, I spent time this past summer making a space. It’s really nice — we fixed it up for them.
At the end of the day, I’m outside in the streets talking to parents. Usually I will get a bunch of parents coming to talk to me, and I think that’s important. It’s critical to continue relationships. I don’t make my parents wait outside when it’s cold – we invite them to wait for their students inside the building. Then I don’t have to go into the cold either!
Right now, I’m pursuing my Doctor of Education through National Louis University, where I’m also an adjunct professor. This year I will be participating in the Chicago Principals Fellowship. I heard great things from previous fellows about the program and how rigorous it could be. I’m looking forward to the conversations with Dr. Janice Jackson, and to getting to know the other principals.