I’m often accused of overusing the word “opportunity.” Every challenge, problem, or complication can just as easily be an “opportunity.” You can see the eyerolls from staff, students, and even my wife when I correct people when they use the word problem.

It’s an “opportunity,” I say!

It’s as much self-talk as it is a correction, but it certainly helps my posture in this new role as middle school principal.

Injury Expert

The most understated role in the job description of middle school principal is the need to be an expert in bumps, bruises, wiggly teeth, black eyes, and broken thumbs. Our health room is a revolving door and students, with their unexpected injuries, come at the most inconvenient times.

Recently we had an incident (ahem, an “opportunity”) where a child’s first adult tooth pierced another kid’s head in a supposed volleyball mishap. Seriously! You can’t make this stuff up! Both boys were sitting in our health room, one with an indent on his head, the other with a wiggly tooth. Both boys, still eager to keep on playing. Time will tell if that tooth is going the make it!

Or take the number of ice packs and Band-Aids we’ve divvied out over the last month. A lot of these small incidents flood our health room every day. As much as it becomes redundant it’s also a great “opportunity” to connect with kids. Often, they come in with tears or bruised egos and sometimes we rush them off to the dentist or doctor. But most times, the students just need a little care and some reassurance, and they are right back out there.

What I’m learning is that there is a little more TLC involved in being a middle school principal and most of it falls under the “other duties as required.”

A Simple Change

There are many good reasons to go home stressed from the day or overwhelmed with a list of things to do, yet the simple change in posture changes our perspective from burden to joy and from problem to opportunity.

There will be many more “opportunities” that come my way this year. I’m hopeful, however, that if I say it out loud enough, the students and staff will help me remember life’s opportunities when I need it most.