2018 Christmas Challenge
Leading an organization can be summed up with 1 word, 4 letters long… W-O-R-K. Christmas is the “biggest” holiday of the year for those who celebrate. We have made it such a large holiday that many times the holiday break can be summed up with 1 word, 4 letters long… W-O-R-K!
Just as I’ve blogged about taking care of yourself throughout the year, I think it’s equally as important to not work too much during the holiday break and enjoy your time off. From experience, I know we see our two-week holiday vacation as a time to catch up on work that we hadn’t been able to get done while school is in. I also have experienced the busyness of holiday “stuff”. Spending days in the kitchen preparing 20 dishes for Christmas or running around town day after day looking for the perfect Christmas gift.
I have come to appreciate the holiday break and to make a conscious effort to allow myself to enjoy it. For the two weeks off, I enjoy spending time catching up with friends that I can’t seem to find time to hang out with during the school year. I start buying my gifts the week of Thanksgiving and the goal is to be finished by the time holiday vacation begins. I have come to believe that we don’t need 20 dishes for our Christmas meal.
Christmas Challenge: list 5 things you must do this Christmas break to just have fun and enjoy yourself. Then, hold yourself to checking off each item on your list.
Click on the following link to access the 5 “Must Do’s” for Christmas:
It’s holiday season and for schools that could mean a challenging time of the year. Students are anxiously counting down to Christmas break. Teachers are anxiously counting down to Christmas break. Administrators are anxiously counting down to Christmas break. Reality is reality and that’s exactly what’s happening in most schools in America this time of year.
Although everyone is looking forward to the much-deserved break, campus leaders must make sure some type of education continues for as long as students are in the building. There are ways that leaders can keep the learning going in the building, but also not being a complete scrooge.
Leaders can encourage teachers to continue instruction, but also find a way to weave in the holiday spirit. Math teachers can use Christmas items to measure, find perimeters, and/or create a Christmas budget. ELA teachers can read Christmas classics and dissect the literary works, students can write Christmas plays or stories, and students can write what a perfect Christmas holiday would be for them.
It’s important that leaders continue to be visible during this time. Make sure your staff, students, and parents continue to see you during morning/afternoon arrivals and dismissals. Make your rounds to classrooms to monitor that instruction is continuing. You might consider a challenge where you reward the teacher or grade level that does a great job of using the holiday theme in instruction.
Leaders can bring a little cheer to their staff members as well. Here are just a few ideas:
What are some things you do on your campus to keep everyone motivated to keep working but also spread the holiday cheer?
Last week’s blog was meant to be a warning for leaders… to beware of when it’s time to move to your next challenge. I received a great question from a veteran educator in response to the blog. The question had to deal with how do you handle a leader who has not taken the time to realize that no one is following them and that the time to move on has come.
The toughest part of leadership is having crucial conversations. We train principals how to have these crucial conversations with campus staff members; yet, it seems like the crucial conversations on the admin level are non-existent. Leadership is leadership… regardless the level. I would venture to say that ineffective leaders at the central office level could possibly cause more harm than ineffective leadership on the campus level. Central admin leaders are responsible for the whole district. Ineffective leadership at the top filters through the entire district and effects every campus, every teacher, and every student.
Crucial conversations are not comfortable. Crucial conversations don’t feel good. If you’ve done your job to build relationships, crucial conversations can be downright painful; however, if it’s for the good of the organization, it’s necessary.
In last week’s blog, I mentioned leadership is leadership regardless of the career field. Allow me to use the Jalen Hurts/Alabama situation. Alabama’s football coach, Nick Saban, moved Jalen from starting quarterback this football season. During this year’s championship game, the starting quarterback got hurt and Jalen was sent in as the backup. The team was down when Jalen hit the field in the 4thquarter… the team won under his leadership on the field.
Social media was full of comments about how Jalen stayed at Alabama instead of transferring to another school when he lost the starting position and that the championship comeback was somewhat of a reward for his commitment to the program. That may be true, but I saw a different lesson. I saw a head coach make what was a tough decision… to take the starting position away from a kid he’s had in his program and who helped the team win countless games. In the coach’s eyes, Jalen had gotten to a point where he was no longer productive. At that point, the coach felt what was best for the team was to give the job to someone else who could have been more productive.
Now, if the commentators had it right, I heard them say that Saban didn’t just take the job away from Jalen, he went out and found an exceptional quarterback coach who could help Jalen improve on his passing. This was profound leadership to me. Saban made the tough decision to change quarterbacks, but cared enough about Jalen that he wanted to help him get better. He made the decision that was best for the TEAM, but also made a decision that was best for the PLAYER. That’s great leadership in action.
Back to the original question: What do you do when a leader is no longer effective?
My answer: You have the crucial conversation and do what’s best for the organization.
Paula Patterson is a Superintendent of Schools who shares practical points on leadership.