The demands of the job, the expectations of home life and your physical needs will be pulling at you all day, every day.
Instructional staff, support staff, students, parents, school board members, community members, and offsite colleagues will ask you, “Do you have a minute?”
Toilets will overflow when the custodian is off duty, students will get sick, the power will go off, an uninvited visitor will appear on your playground, etc.
You know that you cannot predict which unexpected things will happen at your school on a day-to-day basis; however, you have control over all that is predictable.
How do you maintain a sense of direction and not get caught up in all the unpredictable events?
Every unpredictable event has the potential to use up all your time, your attention and your energy. You can find yourself completely exhausted at the end of the day, yet feel like you did not accomplish anything except put out bush fires all day if the unpredictable events take over.
Or, if you happen to be a wanna be fireman, you might actually enjoy all those bush fires. You might feel that your day was very productive because you squashed all those “pressing” events; however, did you really accomplish anything? Did you move your school forward? Did you stay true to your instructional leadership plan? Or were you just a great “Johnny on the Spot” problem solver?
We know distractions can happen in the classroom, on the playground and even during a staff meeting.
If a teacher stops teaching and focusses on the inappropriate behaviour in the classroom for too long, the initial lesson gets lost and behaviour management becomes the main focus.
We know that if a teacher does not have a clear plan for how he or she is going to deal with behaviour, hours of instructional time can be lost while the teacher focusses on correcting the inappropriate behaviour each time it crops up.
The teacher becomes exhausted, frustrated and maybe even hostile with the children. This can be avoided with proper behavioural intervention planning.
Watching a great teacher in action, in the classroom, is the best way to help you remember how to deal with all the distractions, without losing your sense of direction.
Why would I make that statement?
Well, because great teachers, despite all the distractions and interruptions, still manage to get the job done!
They have systems, running in the background, to deal with interruptions, behaviour outbursts and unpredictable events.
They know that there will always be interruptions, distractions and behaviour problems. They know they have a job to do. They stay focussed on their job at hand and have pre-planned for the interruptions. Because they are driven to “stay the course”, they have taught the children how life will unfold in their classrooms. Children know the procedures to follow to get things done. They know the teacher means business and that everyone in the classroom has a job to do.
As an administrator, you need to “teach” everyone in your building how you expect life to unfold in your school. You have to have a very clear picture in your mind of what you want your school to be like.
You have to put things in place to deal with interruptions and you need to have everyone in your building understanding that they have a job to do.
Everyone in the building has a huge and important role to play in the life of the school. You need to help them understand their role and empower them to do their job.
Have you noticed that your best teachers love their job? It is not because their job is any easier than anyone else’s. It is because they have not lost their vision despite all the distractions.
How are you spending the time you are given each day of the school year?
We each have the same number of minutes in the day.
Your school is a large classroom. Are you “staying the course” or are you a wanna be fireman?
Your comments are most welcome.