When I was preparing to be a school leader, I had hoped that I would be able to lead in a way that meant I wasn’t like a “manager.” That word connotes some less than savory images, especially when one hopes to lead organizations in a way that inherently recognizes and supports the leadership within all staff members dependent on specific tasks and overall job. However, I wasn’t truly expecting the many ways in which I had to balance being a “leader” with being a “manager”. What I learned over time was that being a good manager complemented collaborative leadership and also allowed teachers to do what they do best with fewer distractions. Managing my own schedule as a school administrator was a way in which I could attend to management tasks but also work within my own vision framework and be that instructional leader that is so vital.
I can think of one example specifically. I tried to rarely spend time in my office, even when I was in administrative positions where I had to manage student discipline. If one lets it happen, it can be very easy to get into a pattern of dealing with discipline 24/7, calling students out of class to the office to talk about discipline infractions. Fundamentally, I had severe reservations dealing this way with students and their disciplinary infractions. Most of all, it went against my vision of being proactive, spending time in classrooms with students and teachers. In managing my time and the discipline referrals, I carried a clipboard. Every morning (as it was my norm to be in the building by 6am) I would strategically plan my walk through observations for the day to correspond to certain students I also needed to see in reference to a discipline issue. (*a side note to this would be that this only works with certain kids and certain types of infractions AND the administrator doing this needs to have built the relationships with students and teachers where they understand you will often be present in classrooms). Students missed less class time when I went to them, which supported my philosophy on keeping students in the classrooms as much as possible and the idea that the learning is paramount to anything else happening in a school. Also, my (or any administrator’s) presences and visibility automatically helps to prevent issues before they become major problems.