October 12, 2018

So you want to be an Admin...what NOT to do


In case you just joined us, this is a multi-part series on becoming a school administrator. You can certainly start here but I would recommend also looking at the 80/20 Rule and the preparation. You never know, you may get some good tips from those.

For this part, let's talk about  what you SHOULD NOT DO when you become an administrator.

Disclaimer...I am not saying I have done all of these things, I am just pretty observant. 

You should NOT...Change things right away
That is unless you were hired to fire a bunch of people. I hope not, that would be a crappy beginning to a career! Most of the time, things will be pretty smooth when you get to where you are going. If not, you still need to hesitate when making major changes. My suggestion...learn your people, learn the school's stories, work on culture and atmosphere. Leave the lunch schedule ALONE!

You should NOT...Be Mean
Why in the world would you do that anyways?? I have seen people get into different positions and feel like they need to immediately exert their authority. This is not necessary...see the first suggestion. Work on the culture and you will never have to be mean.

You should NOT...Gossip
I had a wise principal once tell me "it will feel weird when you walk by the teacher's lounge and know they are talking about you." At any given time, this could very well be true. You are not always going to be their favorite and that is ok. With that being said...do not get involved in ANY of the gossip. It will never work in your favor. Focus on...yeah you guessed, the culture and only spread positive, uplifting vibes.

You should NOT...Show Favorites
This one is hard because there are some who are hard to like. But, it is important to refrain from showing your feelings either way. Now, let me get this straight though. If you have a teacher ROCKIN IT...keep giving them attention, give them resources because everyone else will recognize they are kicking butt. You will get accused of showing favorites but with those superstars, it might be worth it.

You should NOT...Take all of the Glory
Give the Glory, take the blame that is what I always heard. Do not worry, you will get your time to shine. Plus, if your school is doing great or if certain teachers are getting recognized, that is a reflection on YOU! Likewise, if things are crappy it is also going to come back on you.

You should NOT...Be Inflexible
I heard one administrator tell me once "Semper Gumby" simply meaning Always Flexible. You better be flexible because no two days will look alike. And like the great Dr. Petzko always told us..."You are only as good as your Plan B."

You should NOT...Assume YOU have all of the Answers
It does not matter how many years of experience you have or how many degrees you have completed, you WILL NOT have all of the answers. Do not be afraid to pick up the phone, send out an email or even tweet someone. It has been mentioned before, build your professional learning network (PLN) and do not be afraid to use it. It could save the moment, your day or even your career...ASK SOMEONE.

I do not normally focus on the negative side of anything, I am a naturally an optimistic type of guy. But, as a school administrator, some of these things can really get you off to a rough start. Obviously these are not all of them but a great start nonetheless. If these tidbits of advice are too simplicistic and you feel you can navigate this on your own...GO FOR IT! But, word of warning, you better be TOUGH.

I am going to keep this topic rolling for a few more weeks. I have some GREAT guest posts coming...stay tuned for perspectives from a current principal, a long-time director of schools and an aspiring school administrator. It should be fun!!

MS