So. Last posting, we decided on the most important thing in education. Amazingly, we determined that was the child. Yessir, those tens of hours studying to receive my M. Ed. certainly paid off.
Now I want to go on record declaring the least important aspect of school – you. And me. And any other administrator. If this upsets you, please keep reading. I said least important, not unimportant. Certainly, we allocate resources, direct curriculum directors, motivate faculty, discipline students, keep the building in ship-shape order, deal with parental concerns, supervise testing – you know, all the fun stuff. But we are also the least important. After all, if we are gone for a day with no substitute, can the school still run? If we’ve hire competent people it certainly can. Compare that to a teacher being gone with no substitute. Or one of the lunch ladies. Maybe even a bus driver or custodian. You would have pandemonium in the classroom, no lunch, no kids at school, and an epidemic of kids tossing their lunch (that they didn’t get). And don’t even think about the school secretary being gone without a replacement. Anarchy would reign.
If this is true (it is), then why do we make so much of ourselves instead of recognizing and congratulating those that make the good things happen at school? As I mentioned in a previous post, people liked the last guy, too. He/she did all the same things you and I are doing. Awards and recognition are nice. Everybody likes to be told they are doing a good job. But when school promotion becomes self-promotion, it becomes time to take a step back.
Take it a step further on a really bad day, and you could even say that not only is it not about you, but you may feel like nobody cares about you. Was the only reason anybody talked to you today because of what you could do for them? Either that, or because of what you should have done for them that you didn’t?
Bottom line is this: if the recognition of others is what drives your self-evaluation of your job performance, you will never measure up to the place you think you should be. Work hard. Make sure that you meet the expectations by which you will be evaluated by your supervisor. Do it for the kids, for your family, for yourself. Just don’t expect anyone to make a movie about the job you do.
Colossians 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
I teased you with my first post a few days ago, that I would reveal to you the one single most-important school administrator focal point. Today is the day. No more anticipation, no more sweaty palms or anxiety attacks as you awaited this unbelievably amazing truth.
Without further delay, here it is (as flags wave and drums roll):
It’s ALL about each student.
“Wait…what? That’s all? Everybody knows that! This is the reason we all got into education to begin with! This guy’s credibility just went in the tank!”
Yeah, I hear you. I honestly think that everyone becomes an educator to make a difference in the life of a child. Some of the very best people I know are teachers and administrators. But sometimes, somewhere along the line, our mission can get blurred. We begin to see what impact WE can have on the kids, and soon things start to get more about what WE have done with our students than what our students have done. We compare our class to the other classes on the grade level as the gauge of whether WE are doing a good job or not. Administrators compare OUR schools with other schools – we are better than so-and-so school so that makes me a better principal. Right?
I know that these blanket statements are not true about everyone. But I do think that they are true about most of us sometimes. It is at this point that we need to remember the flip side of the above truth: It ISN’T all about me. I will talk more about this in upcoming posts.
It isn’t about how much better an administrator you are than the one before you – they liked that guy for a while, too. It isn’t about winning awards or getting your picture in the newspaper. Those things will take care of themselves if you stick to Point A above.
It IS about that child that hoards pre-packaged desserts on Friday because that is all he will have to eat until he comes back to school on Monday. It is about that child that has a disability that wants to be like everyone else. It is about the gifted child that learns differently and more rapidly than the rest. It is about one student. Our schools are a group of “one students” that collectively make up a student body.
Sometimes it is good for us to step back a few steps and recalibrate the focus of our efforts toward that one student. And that student. And that other student. I have done that recently, and it is very refreshing. What about you?
You have the degree. You have your certification. You have been through Principal School. Next comes reality.
In the coming days and weeks, I will be posting some experiences I have gained through 14 years as a school administrator, at both public and private schools. While the clientele may be a little different, many of the suggestions I will offer you will apply in either situation.
Not bragging, just saying – I have been very blessed to be a part of successful schools at every professional stop. I believe that I can be a help to you as you enter your first principalship, or navigate your way through your current situation. I hope and believe that the information coming your way will be beneficial to you.
My next post, in a few days, will start with a bang – I will discuss the Number 1 Most Important Thing to know as a school administrator. It may be all downhill from there, though!
I look forward to connecting with you and I hope you will enjoy what follows.
Go get ’em tomorrow! The kids and the staff both look to you – give them quality!