Do Educators Have a Boss?


I’m confused.Is the Customer Always Right?

Who do we see as our boss?

The department head?

The principal?

The superintendent?

The school board?

The community?

Government?

Who?

Some may say students, but we don’t really answer to them.

If we did, we would give them what they want and not what we think they need.

So who is our actual boss?

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The Secret to Being a Great Principal.


A long long time ago in a school district far far away I was a teacher.Business question

It was so long ago the Evil Spawn wasn’t even around to mock me (I can hardly remember my pre-Evil Spawn life).

As a teacher, I spent a lot of time watching principals interact in their environment (sort of like the monkeys at the zoo… I kid because I care).

Meetings, supervising games, getting yelled at by parents who hated school when they attended, etc.

What I discovered was the secret to being a successful school administrator.

Actually, it’s not really a secret. 

But when you call something a secret, people seem to want to pay you a pretty penny to stand up and explain it (so it’s a secret… and call me).

For this special one-time offer, I’m going to share it for free (I’m an idiot… nothing should be free).

The secret came to me over 10 years ago.

That particular day seemed like any other.

I taught my classes.  Looked forward to lunch.  Waited for practice to begin.

And hung around the office bothering people who actually worked for a living (sorry, secretaries).

On that day, you won’t believe who walked into the office.

The superintendent.

Some of you might be thinking it was mid-morning and he was just showing up for work, but I’m not going there.

I will say it was his 2nd year on the job.

Also, in the office was a high school senior.

When the superintendent walked through and closed the door to his office, the senior turned to a group of us and said “ Who’s the new guy?”.

Again, this was his second year on the job.

And the senior wasn’t kidding.

He had never seen him.

This is both sad and tragic (which is how I like my stories).

At that very moment, I was both doubled over with laughter and the keeper of the secret.

The secret to being a successful school administrator is walking around.

In the hallways.  In classrooms.  At games.

Even around town.

People want to see you.

They assume when you’re out and about, you are working.

They also assume when they don’t see you, you’re not working.

So take a walk.

You don’t want to be the “new guy or girl”.

Especially in your second year.

Even sadder… the district only had 50 employees.  At some point, the two stars of the story probably should have bumped into one another.

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Superintendents Talk A Lot.


Why didn’t somebody tell me?Blah.  And Then Some More Blah.

I really had no idea.

Then I went to a conference full of superintendents.  

And listened.

To them talk.

To each other.

On the phone.

To people they know.

To strangers.

To themselves.

Talk.  Talk.  Talk.

Then they would take a break (actually, I made this part up… no breaks… ever).

Don’t get me wrong.  It was a good experience.

I enjoyed listening to what they had to say.

When I wasn’t talking.

If I was a plant, I would be 10 foot tall.

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A Good School Administrator Can Smell Trouble.


One of the worst things about being a school administrator is you become jaded.

After a few years (or hours) on the job you begin to get a sense of the people you are dealing with.

Your senses are heighted to the point you can easily recognize an upset person/fan/parent/employee/total stranger from at least 457 yards away.

My 457 yard figure isn’t a guesstimate.  It’s from a scientific study (Google it… actually, don’t).

It’s like playing Where’s Waldo.  Give a seasoned administrator a gym full of people and they can instantly spot the one person who is about to walk up and say…

“I don’t mean to complain, BUT…”

Just once, I want someone to walk up and say “I always complain and I always will.  So sit back and enjoy the colossal reaming you are about to receive!”

What a breath of fresh air that would be (call me a dreamer).

Since this is never going to happen, I want to focus on the downside of having the ability to recognize a complicated situation before it happens.

You (and by you, I mean me) get so used to having your guard up, you sometimes assume there’s trouble where there isn’t.Moist is Not Good.

And we all know what happens when you assume (if you don’t… Google it… really).

Not being able to properly diagnose a situation can make your life even more sad and tragic than it already is.

As I was researching this blog (not)  it made me think of the most horrific moment of my life.

No, not the day the Evil Spawn assumed control of the TV remote (although that’s definitely top 3).

The day in question was so terrible I encourage all of you to stop reading this blog immediately (yes, I know… there’s no way you can stop reading now, but you’ve been warned).

I found myself in the middle of a situation and I didn’t have the ability to pinpoint where my troubles were coming from.

This can be the death of a school administrator (not literally).

Lucky for me, fifteen years later I’m older and wiser.

Okay, just older.

Seriously, this is your last chance to bail out (save yourself, I’m begging you).

No?  So you are all in?  Alright, here we go.

Fifteen years ago, my child bride and I went to the movies.

From the moment we walked in I knew something was wrong.

What was it?

Did the movie stink?  Probably, but that wasn’t it.

Were there creepy teenagers making out in the balcony?  No.  There wasn’t a balcony.

Was the popcorn burnt and overpriced?  Negative.  It’ wasn’t burnt.

What was it?

There was a certain smell I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

A sort of stale moist haze lingered in the air.

It was almost pungent.

What was it?

I wasn’t sure, but I knew it was unpleasant.

Even back then I prided myself on the ability to diagnose a situation.

I can remember thinking I should be able to figure this out.

What is that smell?

I was a college graduate with nearly a year of teaching experience under my belt.  This shouldn’t have been a riddle wrapped in a mystery.

As the movie hit the halfway mark, I began to get frustrated.

What is that smell?  I couldn’t focus on anything but figuring out the strange odor.

Then it hit me.

My pants (or slacks for you older blog readers) were a little wet.

Actually, they were a lot wet.

Had I spilled my soda?  No, that wasn’t it.

What was it?

Had I had an “accident”.  No.  That will likely come in my later years.

Then I figured it out.

It was…

…still time to bail out people.

It was urine.

Yes, I said urine.

My own?

No.

Unfortunately, I had not wet myself.  I have never in my life wished I had less bowel control than in that very moment.

It was urine alright.

The person who “used” my seat during the previous movie had been kind enough to leave me a little present.

They had used the movie seat as a giant urine sponge.

And I sat in it.

For over an hour.

There’s a lesson to be learned here for every man, woman, and child who is considering become a principal or superintendent.

One, always and I mean always make sure your tetanus shot is up to date.

And two, never ever assume where your problems are coming from.  They may not be 457 yards away.

They just might be right underneath you.

Sometimes you are better off focusing inward instead of outward.

Or at least underward.

Let it be known, you will never go to the movies without thinking about me…and checking the seat for unexpected moisture.

PS…I tried to warn you!

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300 Subscribers. I Owe Somebody an Apology.


Sad really.

The PrincipalsPage.com Blog now has over 300 email subscribers.

This means each time I post a half-thought out incoherent barely readable blog, over three hundred people receive it in their inboxes.

My assumption is 296 of them can’t hit delete fast enough.

And I’m okay with that.

When I got my first subscriber (back in the late 1960’s), I was moved to tears (not really, I’m a school administrator … we have no feelings because we are pretty much dead inside).

When the number reached 100, I assumed a rather large group of total strangers secretly got together to pull a cruel (and quite funny) practical joke on me.

At 200, I figured most of my readers were spammers and/or prison inmates (Shout Out to Cell Block 17!!!).

Now at 300, I’m starting to feel a sense of regret.Thanks.

I feel like I should apologize.

Apologize for wasting everybody’s time.

Way too many people read this blog (18,315 unique visitors last month… not that I’m counting).

How many precious hours have been wasted by superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, tech people, and prisoners reading this junk?

It’s quite obvious (to me at least) that I have nothing intelligent to say.

The Evil Spawn is evil.

Buddy the Dog is lazy.

I’m not fit to be married, raise a child, run a school, or own a pet.

Old people don’t like change.

Schools need to implement more technology.

We get it.

Enough already.

Shouldn’t people have something better to do with their time than read this drivel?

Shouldn’t they be working to make education better for kids?

Shouldn’t they be selling illegal contraband to inmates in the next cell?

It’s quite possible I’m making the world a worse place in which to live because my followers are not being productive when they read this blog.

So if you are a subscriber or a visitor, thank you.

And I’m sorry.

I promise to stop.

If you promise to stop reading and get back to work.

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Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.