Les Montagnes


In cycling, there are many different types of riders. Often, the front of the peloton may be dominated by the sprinters, those with the massive legs. The mountain stages rely on the climbers, those with the lungs to climb grades that give cars trouble. The last group are the all-around specialists, those riders that exist in the general classification of most cycling stages. For myself, it is that middle group, the mountain climbers that should garner the most respect.

The climbers not only defy gravity by ripping up steep grades, they often engage in bursts of superhuman effort as they attempt to move away from a competitor. This cat and mouse game is usually pretty exciting to watch in that steer will and determination usually determines victory.

In order to train for climbing, you engage in what are called hill repeats. Find a hill that takes you about two minutes to climb; climb this hill, roll back to the bottom and do it again and again.


As administrators, it seems we can often be seen like the climbers. When dealing with many complex situations, you often have to get to the apex of the problem. This allows you to assess the problem from a position of strength. You can understand the various facets of the issue and work with others to create a solution. The climbers exert a ton of energy over a long period of time. The administrator also exerts time and energy as they encounter complex situations.

As with cycling, the administrator can also train for the various problems they encounter. However, this is more of a job embedded approach. Each situation can be seen as the hill repeat. I have found that the problems we encounter are never the same, neither are the solutions. However, the way we tackle the situations can become the “hill repeat”. Often, the triage nature of our jobs can promote a rote behaviour for dealing with situations.

A number of years ago, my administration team found itself dealing with a great deal of violent incidents. We attempted the triage system but it wasn’t working. Our hill repeats weren’t producing consistent results. We worked to design a set procedure for dealing with conflict. Our conflict analysis sheet provided us with a normalized set of questions that would be useful for all conflict situations. The more times that we used the process, the better we became at conquering the hills.

The feeling that you get when you get to the top of a mountain is an amazing experience. Being able to repeat that feat makes it all the better.

Now, are you ready to conquer your mountain?


One Comment

  1. Kyle Hoopes said:

    Great thoughts. I was wondering if you could share your conflict analysis sheet with the normalized set of questions. I’m a new administrator and I am looking for anything that will help me be a better principal. Thanks again for your thoughts.

    May 31, 2013

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