The Administrative Tightrope and Finding Balance

I wrote the following blog piece this past fall.  As an administrator heading into spring, I felt that it was appropriate to publish this piece again, to not only remind myself about finding balance in my work, but to remind others too, that they need to find balance so that they bring their very best “self” to work each day as we quickly move toward the end of the year demands of school.

This morning I was on the phone with a principal colleague from Boston when I realized what I would write about this week for my blog.  It’s funny how an ordinary conversation can take a turn and help bring clarity and focus to a situation.

Both of us were talking about our hours at work and what it takes to be an elementary school principal.  I was sharing how for the past couple of weeks at least, I’ve been working almost 12 hour days at school and then coming home and trying to work at night, in addition to working on weekends as well.  My colleague shared that she, too, had been working long hours at school and that she often went in for several hours on the weekend.  

People who know me understand how much I love my job and how dedicated to children I am.  For me, personally, that is one of the best things about my job: It never feels like work and I find that the enjoyment I get from what I do professionally fuels me and naturally renews me…most of the time.  


Despite my loving my work, I have also felt slightly “off” lately and this morning’s conversation reminded me why.  In addition to being passionate about education and my work, I am also deeply passionate about the things I do outside of work as well.  I am an avid gardener, I golf and snowboard, I’m an extreme genealogist, and I dabble in other things such as cooking, photography, travel, and the arts.  Long story short, is that I realized today that lately, I haven’t taken the time to “play” in some of the other arenas I so deeply love!  The end result is that I throw myself into my job and then go through periods of feeling “off” and not feeling like my best self.  

I thought this morning about the “tightrope” I’ve been walking lately and it seems that I haven’t done the best job balancing things in my world.  Having said that, it doesn’t mean what I have done, I’ve done poorly either.  It just means that in regards to the activities that bring me great pleasure, I’ve not given them the time they deserve and in turn, I haven’t given myself the time I deserve.  

Administrators must be sure to find the balance that helps keep them grounded in their work and their personal lives, so that they can go to work each day and be wholly present for their students, their staff, and their colleagues.  Each one of us is only as good as what we bring to the job each day and I feel that when any one of us ignores other parts of our self, we aren’t able to truly do the work we need to do and be in the right mindset.  

It is crucial that school administrators regularly find time, even if not every day, to participate in preferred activities that keep them grounded to their world outside of work no matter how much they love their job, their schools, and their students.  I know for myself, that balance not only helps me walk the tightrope of work, it also helps me stay in the right frame of mind so that I continue to be fueled by my work and the enjoyment I get from it.  

As a note, I did play nine holes of golf today.  My game was as bad as the last time I played, however, it was good to take the time, laugh, and enjoy some great fall weather!  My school work will be waiting for me tomorrow, however, I’ll be all the better for having taken the time today!


  1. Irene said:

    Although I retired two years ago, from an elementary school principalship that I absolutely loved, I remember the feeling you described very well. Having a balanced life was so important to me. If I hadn’t made an effort to pursue my interests while working, I would have had great difficulty making the transition to retirement which would have been so sad, I think. One of my interests was writing. I am in the process of publishing a collection of essays about the principalship and guess what? One of the essays is called ….Balance! Would you like to read it?

    March 20, 2014
    • Thomas Martellone said:


      Thanks for responding to my post. It sounds like you made wise decisions as a leader that helped you balance your work and then your life after the principalship. I’d love to read your essay! You can send it to my personal email, which is

      March 23, 2014

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