When Kids Are In The Building, Be With The Kids

Recently at the end of my “Sunday Blast”, my weekly newsletter for the elementary staff, I said, “Enjoy this week with the kids…really, enjoy the kids.” I’m certain that there are times that we forget that it’s the relationships with our students that drove us to be educators.

Think of the things that take our mind away from the children we teach, from the implementation of safety drills and new standards, to bureaucratic requirements and federal law. Part of the administrator’s job is to tame the rules and regulations so that teachers can simply teach but yet, we often get wrapped up in the noise and pace of our day.

Nine years ago in this blog, I wrote about Walt Disney’s collaborative style and mentioned that Disney had a plan for what “hadn’t happened yet” since vision was a big part of his daily thinking, not just “keeping the trains running on time”. In the same way, it really takes significant time in classrooms for the administrator to capture the vision and and keep himself grounded.

While difficult, with few exceptions, the building administrator is better off leaving the bureaucracy paperwork for after school or evenings. I’ve always believed in the credo: When kids are in the building, be with the kids. This is not easy of course as it likely pushes a 50 hour a week job to a 60 hours or so. Of course, there are many reasons it makes perfect sense to be with kids:

  • Done well, 10 minute “walk throughs” by Principals can actually improve instruction.
  • Classroom management can be helped a bit by the presence of the Principal walking in and out of classrooms.
  • Visibility is credibility, says Hopkinton, NH Superintendent Steve Chamberlin. Building positive relationships with students comes in handy when they find themselves in need of help from the Principal.
  • Interacting with kids helps to ground the Principal so he/she knows exactly why they are in the profession to begin with.
  • The classic strategy of management by walking around works much better than managing employees via email or memo. The term originated from the leadership classic In Search of Excellence from Peters and Waterman.

You want to capture joy in your day? Hang with the kids.

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