When you read any article or book published for school administrators, you can usually tell after the first paragraph if the person writing is a writer on Educational Leadership or someone who has actually played the role of principal. Writers often write wonderful things about how the principal is “the educational leader of the building” and other topics that are almost impossible to put on the calendar and that they actually accomplish in a concentrated way during any normal school day. This writer introduces you to what will be your first headache of every year that you are a boss, and you can put it on the calendar, and you will spend a lot of focused time dealing with it. The “Ivory Tower” folks didn’t mention this one at Grad School, we assure you. Issues like the one mentioned in this article could be the reason why they chose the Ivory Tower in the first place and therefore have a lot of time to write!
So are you ready? This is your first big headache and it will manifest on the first day or two of the new school year. He has just returned to his office after being “all over the place” greeting children, checking buses, and talking to teachers and staff. It’s about 10 in the morning and you sit down to catch your breath and finish the cold coffee you bought at the store this morning at 6 in the morning when it was hot.
The secretary comes in and asks if you want the person who makes the announcements in the morning (by the way, you should do some about positive things and not just sports) – announce that the registration requests are at the desk in the student office that want a parking pass that allows them to drive to school and park in the parking lot.
This seems harmless enough, right? Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride! The announcement is made, and by Friday’s application deadline, you have 203 applications. By the way, there are 35 parking spaces for students. Some of the applications are incomplete because they ask for a copy of the license, registration and insurance. The secretary reviews all of these and gives you the 186 completed applications.
OK, so far so good. Here’s the question: who can park in all 35 spots? Have you even thought about criteria? Will it be only for seniors? You wisely ask the secretary how things were done in the past with the previous director. She replies that she has no idea since old Mr. Brown took care of it himself, he just wrote the final list. Okay, you are a pretty bright person, so you start with the logical thinking that older people have the first choice, and this narrows the list down to 117 requests. So you feel that since academics are of the utmost importance, the cutoff for consideration for a permit will be that each student must have a GPA of 3.2 or better. It has about 77 applications. Now what? Well, maybe you should consider the level of contribution that each student makes to the school as a whole. For example, you might consider your service to the school as part of a band, a team, or some other student leadership activity. All good ideas so far and logically defensible. You now have about 53 apps. So far, this Captain Queeg-style analysis has cost him a great deal of time and visibility. You realize you have a school to run, so you just pick the names from the hat to finish the process (also a defensible approach: a LOTTERY!) And present the final list to the secretary for her to write down and post on the exterior wall of the main office. Well. That wasn’t so bad, you think, what’s the next thing I have to make some decisions about? You go home that night feeling like you’ve accomplished something.
The next morning there are about 15 extremely angry parents waiting for you in the reception area of the office. Several angry parents have called, two members of the school board have called, and the superintendent has called as well. The topic? Student parking concerns.
His day is completely dedicated to dealing with angry parents whose child did not get a parking permit. Everyone leaves with the promise that “You haven’t heard the last of me” … and, “I’m calling the Superintendent and / or the Board members, etc.” The superintendent asks what all the fuss is about. You ask, “What fuss?” “I just made some logical decisions about who will get a permit to park in the lot considering the fact that we only have 35 spots available.” You proceed to outline your ironclad logic to arrive at this decision, and the superintendent thanks you and tells you that he will support you, but that you must make an exception because the board member, Mrs. Cavendish’s son, who is going to the technical school and has a job every day as a veterinary assistant, needs to drive quite a distance, etc. Funny boy / girl than the Superintendent – he / she ends with the comment, “Are we having fun already?” Other parents argue that their children have jobs, many that are crucial to the family’s financial problems, and those children could not leave a team if they wanted due to financial problems. The respectful parents of some of your Indian and Pakistani students come next and tell you that their children, all of whom are excellent students and never miss a day of school, have to work in the family business every day, and they would like to apply. respectfully a parking space for your child. Two parents cry as they tell the sad story of a family illness that requires their child to drive every day for a legitimate purpose. The other members of the school board call asking for a favor, one of whom is painfully outspoken at all times and reminds you that they can sway the votes and will remember you in the spring when the question of your raise comes up.
Now what? You cannot remove the published list. His heart goes out to some of these people, and he even thinks pragmatically about future raises for a moment or two. They take two more days just going over all the concerns from parents, students wanting to see you, calls from their boss and board members, and unsolicited suggestions from various staff. Another idea that comes to mind and passes quickly is that maybe students who are in their sports season could keep their space until the season is over and then someone else could get the space, but then you notice that very few students are involved. in just one thing. Try calling in other seasoned managers in the area, all of whom have a suggestion or two, but all come from various facilities, with different levels of political capital depending on how long they have been on the job. Take good notes, but most of the things they say won’t help you today. At night, your loving husband or wife says, “Honey, you wanted this job …”
Decide that the list sticks and the anger continues unabated for a week or two. You will see many of these people again. Despite the threats of lawsuits, the school’s attorney assures him that anyone can sue anyone else for anything, but the plaintiff in these actions would have no real cause of action and his case would be dismissed; it would take a lot of your time, that’s all. Being a student of “shared governance,” something Machiavelli would have laughed at, he gathers a committee made up of several teachers, two students, a coach, and one or two parents and asks them to think about the selection criteria for the next year.
Now, it’s about two weeks into the school year and she hasn’t had a chance to “get out for air.” Things seem to be on the way to being resolved when the secretary reminds him of an irrefutable law of nature: People get older every day. That means that as the school year goes on, each day students celebrate birthdays and grow older. Therefore, at the end of the year there will be a significantly higher number of licensed drivers than at the beginning of the year. It also reminds you that you were also young once and as a high school senior, you probably didn’t want your friends to see you taking a bus to and from school, either. It would be as embarrassing as having to bring a lunch to school. What are you planning to say to parents who want to know why their children are not allowed to drive to school now that they have a license in November?
By now, you may be thinking about that vacation commercial where they ask the question … Do you want to get away? You may also be looking in the mirror and wondering why you quit your teaching job and that long summer vacation. Relax, things will get better and it will only be around September 20. Much more school remains. This has been your first headache. You will learn from this. We will stop now and give you some time to process. Many of your headaches this year will come unexpectedly. At least you know it will arrive, every year at the same time. Are we still having fun?