- Teaching a high school class and helping them start their eportfolios.
- A professional growth plan meeting with one of my staff member.
- Cleaning up vomit in the front foyer.
- Sitting in a Christmas concert done by our K-1 students.
- Being pulled out of a Christmas concert to help guide busses out of a packed parking lot in -20 degree Celsius weather.
- Running back into the concert to catch the end and engage with parents.
- Supervision at the end of the day.
Some of those were planned and some of those obviously weren’t. As an administrator, you have to be extremely flexible and accommodating to best serve your students and staff. No day ever looks the same and I do my best to be quick on my feet. That is why I have trouble implementing policies within our school.
Now don’t get me wrong, there have to be some policies in school. For example, we have a policy for administering medication within our school that is essential for the safety of students and staff. But how many policies do you have in your school that are truly needed? How many policies exist that FORCE you to deal with a rule as opposed to a person. Do these policies take away the need for common sense and restrict what you are doing with students?
Last year, we had a strict policy regarding the use of electronic devices within our school. Now this policy was created before my time and definitely had the best intentions for the time it was created. With the change in our world, there was more of an opportunity for students to use these devices in the classroom, and as teachers found innovative ways to try different things, I noticed something disturbing. Teachers were asking me permission to use them in the classroom and “break” the policy. Right then and there, I decided to do what I thought was best. Get rid of the policy.
Have we had issues with devices in our school since then? I would be lying if I said no, but I could easily count them on one hand in the last two years. Now with these few issues, do we create a school wide policy that affects everyone? Or do we leave room for flexibility in school:
“So don’t scar on the first cut. Don’t create a policy because one person did something wrong once. Policies are only meant for situations that come up over and over again.” Rework by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
Just like there is no handbook for parenting, there is none for being a school administrator either. Early in my career, I remember schools having policies than went through the “offense” list, followed by the “consequence”. What this does in our school is paint people in corners where they do not look at the situation, but they look at the action and then have a reaction. We need to look at the person and try to understand the “why” of the situation. Then we have to look at how we can help the student make better choices in the future.
As I started off, having no policies is not realistic. We live in a litigious society and we have to ensure that our students and staff are safe. The reality though is that many of the policies in schools take out the opportunity to deal with our kids. We are in the people business, not the “policy” business.
I challenge you to take a look at the policies and rules in your school. How many are needed and how many put you in a position where you really don’t need to talk to your kids? If it is the second, isn’t it time to rethink if it needs to exist?