Do You Have Visibility in Your Organization?
As a leader, do you have trouble being noticeable? Are you unable to be everywhere once? Are you frustrated that the software for cloning hasn’t been fully implemented yet? If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you are all in precisely the same situation!
It is a privilege to teach an advanced course at Rowan University this semester titled Education Organization and Leadership. One of our most recent assignments was to ask students to interview an administrator regarding the administration of the facility. Students wrote compelling stories from their interviews that encouraged me to think about my own practices. I am incredibly grateful for their ideas!
Courage begins by taking the initiative and letting ourselves be noticed. Brene Brown
In my first principal position, I never worried about my position’s visibility. I was the sole administrator in a building that had more than 320 students and 40 full-time employees throughout the day. There were three floors and approximately 22 classrooms. My front desk and office were linked by a sliding door. Moving around the building was simple, and I could make contact with the staff every day. My life was like this for the next five years. I can assure you that there were times of struggle, and I’m confident that amnesia has resurfaced regarding my perception of my visibility. However, for the major of my life, it was a dream.
Now, fast forward as I am getting closer to my two-year birthday at Lakeside Middle School. I have a difficult time seeing. I am the building principal with three vice principals, 120 employees during the day, and 1,100 students. There are 75 classes, two floors, and ten hallways. One hallway is essentially a quarter-mile. It’s a great space to work in, and there’s no dull moment.
What are the facts?
We utilize McREL Walkthrough. McREL Walkthrough system and I was able to look back through and see the number of walkthroughs I’ve completed over the last two years. I’ve done at least 205 classroom walkthroughs.
In the same amount of time span, I’ve observed around 75 staff members at an average time of 40 minutes (some with pre-conferences and the rest with post-conferences). I’ve attended around twenty PLC sessions. There have been weekly staff gatherings, subcommittees meetings, departmental meetings, and around 10 Professional Development Days. In addition, I’ve completed about 160 duties in the cafeteria (very, very few in this year’s) and was out to numerous shifts in classes. I am most of the day and evening at the entrance of the school, controlling the flow of traffic and also directing students.
Based on my SAMs statistics, from October, I’ve worked around 2300 hours. For 2016-17 I logged 53% of my time in “instructional” time, in contrast to this year, where I’ve only spent 40 percent. In both of these years, I’ve been spending about 30% of my period on “management” and around 3percent of my time at home (I rarely eat lunch). Every year, I average around 17% “unscheduled” time, which means that I have trouble remembering what I did.
Vulnerability is the source of creativity, innovation, and transformation. Brene Brown
What is the issue?
In the above data, it seems that I am involved in the school. However, I must admit that I’ve received comments from staff members that read that to me:
“You are still working here?”
“I haven’t seen your face in the past ___ days.”
“Well at least you’re not the same as our former principals, and I haven’t seen the same person for 39 consecutive days in a year. ”
“Thanks to everyone who stopped by”
Truthfully, the people who have spoken out about these issues do not say them in a threatening or demeaning manner, but being someone always thinking about it, it irritates the hell out of me… very much!
What do we do now?
Since this issue has been a source of concern for me for some time, I’ve already started to solve the issue. Truthfully, no one is concerned about the information I provided earlier. It doesn’t matter how large or small the building or how many walkthroughs or surveys have been conducted. If I don’t feel at ease, the entire staff feels the same.
Here’s my game plan:
I am writing this blog!
Make use of SAMs to their fullest. SAMs program to the fullest extent. Follow the schedule, regardless of whether it says “monitor classes” or “visit the staff and students.”
You can save emails later. Yes, I receive around 80-90 emails per day, but what’s the point? Plan uninterrupted time to complete emails in times when the building is not busy.
Reduce the time for meetings by 20 percent. There are a lot of meetings in my office which could last between 45 minutes and an hour. I’m trying to streamline the meetings so that I can get more time outside of my work.
You could try creating a “no work” day every month. It’s something I could easily accomplish with technology and WiFi. My office is literally anywhere during the day. There are still five months in the school year, so I’ll probably be able to take five “no working days.”
Continue to distribute feedback cards. I began this on January 15th and have distributed approximately 30 cards. This has forced me to engage with staff regarding what I observed as well as what I am pondering and also to recognize the excellent work they are doing inside their schools!
Engage with students and staff beyond the walkthroughs and observation. Ask questions, be attentive to the staff, and be present!
Find the place where the staff is (at the sign-in, check out, or common areas)
Being vulnerable is a risk that we need to take if we are to feel connected. Brene Brown
I am looking forward to tackling these issues and then sharing these issues with you. What tips can you offer? What are some challenges you’d like to share? Please share your thoughts so that we can improve by working all together.