Thursday, September 29, 2005
posted by Q6 at 11:16 PM
I went to my son's Back-to-School Night earlier this evening. Being a school administrator, it's a weird experience: it's a different school, it's in a different district, and the highest rank I carry on that campus is "parent" (which isn't a bad title at all--it's just not what I'm used to at a school). I sit there the whole time listening to the presentations by the teachers; I can hear between the lines, I know what they're saying and, more importantly, what they're not. I feel like a corporate spy, watching and listening like I'm checking out the competition. I can predict the other parents' questions, and I can tell when the teachers' answers are firmly couched in diplomacy.

What REALLY ticked me off about tonight, however, happened about halfway through the evening. During the math class, three parents realized they were in the wrong room. I couldn't wrap my head around it: we ALL had schedules in our hands--even them. We each had a list of classes, in order, with room numbers on it. All the classroom doors--every one--had a number on it. I can understand the parents having a hard time FINDING a room, but these people actually went in, sat down, and listened for more than two minutes before realizing they were supposed to be elsewhere.

And we're worried about the KIDS' test scores?? I'm worried about these parents, y'know, preparing people's food and operating automobiles . . .
Sunday, September 18, 2005
posted by Q6 at 9:46 PM
For the last several months, our school (and district) have put an emphasis on using e-mail. All memos will be sent through e-mail. All requests will be done via e-mail. Most of my communication with all things professional are done by e-mail.

My e-mail is down. Woe is me.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
posted by Q6 at 10:29 PM
The list of things I'm responsible for isn't particularly long or difficult, but it's eclectic. One of the events I'm responsible for is Back-to-School Night. I plan it, I execute it, and then I make a big list of things I need to do better next year. Then I lose the list and screw the exact same things up the following year. It's not a perfect system, but it works for me.

Actually, things went quite well this evening. Many teachers showed up (even some who don't usually appear at this event), and it was attended by the largest crowd of parents I've seen in five years. Much of that has to do, I'm sure, with the change of administration. Many parents said to me how much they enjoyed the event, enjoyed the school, and were pleased to have their kids attending our school. I'm still amazed at how well this year is going.

The biggest relief of all, however, I found out very late in the evening. For the last week, we were trying to decide which teacher would have to be released when the enrollment numbers were finalized. We knew we were low; we've known all along. We knew a teacher was going to be lost. Our principal, however, spent most of the day at the district office and told me this evening that they are not going to make us cut anyone. (We had someone in mind, of course; but now that she's staying, perhaps her mentor teacher can do something with her . . . )
Monday, September 12, 2005
posted by Q6 at 11:48 PM
After only one week of school, I've noticed some very interesting changes. Many of these are the result of a severe change of administration (our school has four administrators--now four and a half, if you count the intern). Three of these are new to the campus, and one of those is new to the district and the area. I'm the only remaining member of the former administration; many joked that I was the "sole survivor," but I like to think of myself as the only administrator not voted off the island (which in and of itself is odd, as I don't particularly like reality shows). The sweeping changes in approach and style were inevitable, but the weirdness seemes to have manifested in the response by the community.

Although I expected widespread rejection by the teachers, parents, and students, it seems that only the last group has had any real problem with the new regime. Dress code, attendance, state standards, curriculum guidelines, off-campus privileges--all are being strictly enforced. The teachers got on board almost immediately (at the Staff Retreat, their first real exposure to the new leadership as a whole). The parents have voiced overwhelming support for the new principal and her methods, and this is surprising for two reasons: first, because this hasn't always been the case with this particular community (I've tried to maintain some anonymity here--let's just say that our community is the stuff that TV shows are made of), and second, because in four years I've never seen this parent group this united about anything. Even the students have surprised me: sure, there's dissent among the troops (if their websites are to be believed, they're planning all kinds of rebellion; even there, however, other students are shouting them down), but the campus is cleaner than I've ever seen, the students are running--literally running--to class to avoid being late, and the typical discipline cases we usually see at the beginning of the year, those which smack of a "let's see what we can get away with" attitude, have yet to surface. It's just, . . . well, it's unusual for me. Part of me is starting to think that over the last four years I was part of the problem.

Now I feel like part of the solution. Maybe this is what the job is really supposed to be like.

Monday, September 05, 2005
posted by Q6 at 9:40 PM
The first day of a school year can be very rewarding and very hectic at the same time. If experience has taught me anything, it's that you plan as much as possible to eliminate potential problems WITHOUT suffering from hubris. Problems will always occur. The unwritten rule in any successful school is that in the 180 days of a school year you're allowed to screw a few of them up.

Nonetheless, our staff is motivated, prepared, and ready to go. Over the last several days--including the entire weekend including Labor Day (which lives up to its name in the field of Education)--teachers have been in their rooms, students and parents have been scouting the campus and decorating lockers, and I've been in my office preparing for the deluge of questions, requests, problems, and other things that are bound to come my way in the next few days. I'm as prepared as I can be, and that's all I can ask of anyone, myself included.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
posted by Q6 at 12:05 AM
As the first day of school approaches, I am reminded of that day back in the summer of 1955 when Walt Disney opened Disneyland. Lots of attractions weren't ready, those that were broke down, and all Walt really had to go on was the manpower at his disposal. Disneyland is now nothing less than iconic, and yet it was in shambles for the first few weeks.

Our school will open with over 20 classrooms (new portable ones) WITHOUT Internet connections, WITHOUT phone systems, WITHOUT intercom or public address . . . the only things truly working in those rooms are the electricity (in most plugs), the air conditioning, and the fire alarm systems. All of these are big issues, to say nothing of the dozens of established classrooms with technical problems of their own. Almost, but not quite going back to the days of Aristotle (merely sitting under a tree with his students), our teachers will be what we really have to go on. I am putting my faith in a staff I know to be inventive, resourceful, and dedicated. Yes, they will complain; yes, they will be frustrated; but if these people are the dedicated professionals I have always known them to be, then this year's opening will still be a glorious success because we have our best resource working at full strength.

Walt would be, I think, as proud of them as I am.