As part of the administrative credential program that I have been working my way through for several months, we’ve had the opportunity to read several case studies and scenarios dealing with students, staff, and parents. What’s interesting about these scenarios is the massive range of situations that you could potentially find yourself in as a school administrator. We’ve talked through dealing with contentious staff meetings. We’ve heard stories about staff members who have removed handicapped parking signs so that they could park closer to their classrooms. We’ve talked about teachers being drunk during class or drinking with students outside of school. We’ve heard stories of confidential material being printed on a shared classroom printer and going home in the hands of the wrong student.
We looked at two different stories this week: one included a staff member drinking with students, another told of an administrative assistant who was spreading negativity,
The variety in these scenarios initially feels overwhelming, as there’s no possible way to prepare for everything. But what I’m noticing is that while the range of potential situations is quite wide, there are a few key principles for how to respond well that keep coming up:
- Relationships matter – Regardless of the situation, it’s important to focus on developing and maintaining relationships with those involved. A strong relationship upfront can save a ton of headaches later. This includes relationships with students, parents, staff, community members, etc. It seems that this is what it all comes down to.
- Ask for help – Find mentors who have been through it before. Get your HR person on speed dial. Consider your work as collaborative work and don’t shy away from asking questions. Again, this is a relational piece. Relationships matter.
- Communicate clearly – Face to face is often best but it’s important to have the ability to talk with small and large groups as well as communicate via phone and email. Communicating early and often can avert many tough situations. One of my mentors often tells me to be sure to “close the loop” by connecting with stakeholders after an issue is resolved. Again, this is a relationship issue.
- Investigate thoroughly – Don’t feel like you need to rush into anything. Ask good questions and think about situations from multiple perspectives. Developing relationships will help with this too.
- Relationships matter – Did I mention this?