You Can’t Unsee it and Other Fine Messes

You can’t unsee it.  What is “it” you ask?  Well, it is really anything, but let me give you some examples…

You can’t unsee a hallway with 7 students roaming it after the bell rings…they are all late.  You also can’t unsee the fact that before the bell rang, there was only one adult monitoring the hallway, and that was the (barely 21 year-old) student teacher.  You really can’t unsee secretaries being rude to parents.  You also can’t unsee a dress code violation, or a smack in the back of the head, or your most accomplished, veteran teacher walking in 20 minutes late for the third time that week…

As a side note, you can’t really unhear anything either (I don’t want to be unfair to ears), so that profanity coming out of the Middle School Principal’s son is a thing.

Nope.  You can’t unsee (or unhear) any of those things. What you really have to do is deal with them.  Oh,…yes my friends, see it and deal with it!

Being an administrator would certainly be easier if you could, just every once in a while, “unsee” something.  You could pick and choose what you wanted to deal with, especially when you were on your way to an unpleasant meeting with a parent.  Oh,…it would be glorious! But you can’t. I mean you can, but not if actually want to be good at this school administrator gig.

Here’s the good news.

When you don’t “pretend” to “unsee” things, you handle things more consistently.  Students, parents, and staff know that you actually have expectations that apply to everyone…all the time…regardless of who committed the act or what occurred.    You begin to build a culture of consistency and accountability.  Teachers know that getting grades in on time applies to everyone, and students know that being rude to each other is not tolerated, You know what magical thing happens when you don’t look away?  There’s actually less to unsee…

People are mostly great and want to do well, and most rise to the occasion when there are consistently applied expectations that are addressed.  Over time, consistency makes your life a lot easier.

Inconsistency muddles everything.  If you see students in the hall after the bell rings and choose not to address it until the second week, one will inevitably say “But you saw me in the hall after the bell twice last week and didn’t say anything…”  And they’re right!

You can’t exactly say, “I did see you last week, but I pretended to unsee it because I am overwhelmed by general nonsense at this time, and didn’t have the time or energy to be consistent.”

That may not go over well.  Behavior like that is both confusing and counterproductive.  So don’t unsee (or unhear) anything. Be consistent in your approach.  Over the long run, it will benefit you, and at the very least, you won’t have to defend your “fairness.”

By the way,…there is more good news.  You can’t unsee the acceptance letter from Duke. How about the diploma of the student you worked with to keep on the straight and narrow for two years?  Nope,…don’t want to unsee that! Get a second copy, frame it, and put it on your wall to see it, like,…forever. Oh, (and because I still don’t want to be unfair to ears), you can’t unhear a kid thanking you for helping her with a peer problem, or unhear the roar of your student body when a group of tough-minded, hard-working students wins a big rivalry game.

So suck it up. Deal with all of it.  The good, and the bad. It makes a difference.  Now get out there and be the administrator you always wanted to be!

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