All Hands on Deck!

In the days of yore, the captain of a ship would have the Boatswain (or Bosun) use his pipe to make the “All Hands” call when he wanted the entire crew up on deck and ready for action. Everyone, no matter what their role, no matter when their last duty shift, no matter how busy on another project, were expected to stop what they were doing, assemble on deck and, presumably, focus on the crisis at hand.


Now you might think that I am going all naval again like last year’s post featuring the OODA Loop. I am not. Instead, I want to gloat. You see, I became principal at Wolcott Elementary School this year, and I noticed that the teachers here understand what it means when the principal (or other staff members) call “All Hands” on our proverbial Boatswain’s Pipe.


A number of times this year, one of us has come to the Educational Support Team (EST) with a student crisis. Sometimes it’s been very low achievement; other times we’ve had a student in personal crisis. In December, I called “All Hands” in order to prevent the total meltdown of several at-risk students (this was somewhat successful, but we plan to do much more next year).


Each time, the response from every staff member has been fantastic: what do we need to do? what can I do? I never had to ask “What are you going to do?”


The great thing is that this is the culture here! It’s embedded deeply in the staff. I could fill a whole separate blog post just listing all of the ways that Wolcott Elementary School staff get together on deck for the good of the students. I am lucky to work here.


If you want to hear the All Hands call on a Boatswain’s Call/Pipe, take a listen.

Image: CC 3.0


Cross posted to Principals Point of View


  1. What a terrific post Larry. I would love to know how you created such a collegial culture in only one year? If it did somewhat already exist, then what steps will you take to maintain such a desired culture for kids? Next year, I have the opportunity to open a new building along with a new faculty and would love to build such a culture as you so eloquently described.

    Thanks for sharing, Shawn

    February 7, 2012
  2. Shawn,

    I take no credit for the school culture here. The previous principal (before an interim) was here for 25 years and worked tirelessly to create what is here. I merely get to take advantage of her amazing work.

    I am working with the staff here to make sure that whatever changes we make, we preserve the core of the culture.

    Thanks for reading.

    February 7, 2012
  3. Tim Slack said:


    Great post. That is one of the parts that I love about being an elementary principal. When there is a student in trouble the entire school community pitches in to help. I have never thought about in in the terms that you have, but I think that is an amazing analogy. If it is OK with you we may even adopt something similar here!



    February 14, 2012
    • Tim,

      Of course you can use it. I can’t remember where I got the ideat to use the term, so feel free.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      February 18, 2012
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    August 1, 2018

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