I’m learning real fast that as an administrator, you have power and influence that other people would like to control. I find myself receiving requests from different sources asking me to take some kind of action on their behalf.
In most cases, the requests are legitimate and in the best interest of the student or school. In some cases, however, the requests are more of the personal desire variety.
As administrators, we can’t be giving students, parents, or even teachers the ability to manipulate us for any reason they desire. It would lead to constant disruption to the stability of the students, teachers, etc.
In my current role, I’m in charge of student scheduling. I’m the person who will give new students their schedule, and I’m also the person that people go to when they need a student moved from one class to another. I’ve found that there are legitimate and academically-beneficial requests for schedule changes, and then there are those that are not. To keep these kind of scheduling requests to a minimum, I’ve learned to say no.
It’s easy to deny a student a schedule change, but when the parent comes in to request a change for less than legitimate reasons, then it becomes a little more difficult.
Sometimes, the student will manipulate the parent into requesting the change. That’s when I’ll have to become creative with my responses.
One example that came across my desk recently had to do with a student who wanted to move from one lunch to another because she felt that there was a student who was bullying her.
Dad came in to talk to me about and request a lunch change so that his daughter wouldn’t have to deal with this other girl.
After a few minutes of conversation with the dad and the student, it became apparent that the real purpose of the schedule change request was so that the daughter could be with her friends in the other lunch. (We have two lunches at our school.)
Even if it was a true bullying threat, moving lunches is not the answer. We need to make sure that the bullying is addressed and stopped.
In this case, however, the student wasn’t even able to identify her bully. This along with other information gave me a pretty clear idea of the true motive of the request.
What I did was tell the dad that before I made any kind of change, I would first need to address the bullying. We needed to find out who the bully was and have some kind of conflict mediation. The student wasn’t too keen on this idea, and neither was the dad.
Dad was stuck on having the schedule changed for the student.
That’s when I went to get some advice from my assistant principal.
Being a new administrator, I’m finding that I’m asking for help often. That’s kind of hard for me, because I’m used to being the expert. After 20 years of being a classroom teacher, I kind of knew what I was doing. As a new administrator, I’m finding that I’m not the expert anymore – not yet anyway. I’m moving toward school administration mastery remember.
I told the assistant principal my situation, and she gave me three words that solved my problem: Move the Bully.
Why didn’t I think of that?
I called the dad back. (By this time, he had left and I had promised to call him once I was able to get in contact with higher powers.)
I told him that since his daughter was the victim in this situation, she shouldn’t have to have her schedule disrupted by the actions of the bully.
I told him that we were going to investigate the bullying issue more, and if the conflict couldn’t be resolved, then we would move the schedule of the bully. That way his daughter could continue having a stress-free day.
Dad, of course, wasn’t in agreement with this resolution, so he promised to call back and speak with the assistant principal.
I gave him her name and number.
He hasn’t called back.
As an administrator, I’m finding that there are a lot of people out there who will try and manipulate you – students, parents, teachers – to get what they want, even if it is not in the best interest of the student or school.
I’m learning, however, that I can’t allow this to happen, and I need to find creative ways to say no.
Wish me luck.
Any administrators out there in agreement? Any suggestions? Do you know of a creative way to keep from saying yes to these people?
I’m all ears.