Dear Rick & Rebecca: During the first week of school, I had arrival and dismissal time problems. My buses were running super early and many students arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule. I let the kids into the foyer and a few teachers helped out while I dealt with transportation.
Apparently, there were scheduling conflicts that weren’t easy to rectify. Moving my school’s start time back 20 minutes and ending the school day 20 minutes earlier seemed like the best solution. I sent a parent letter home announcing the new school hours. Now I am taking all kinds of heat.
Some parents had to figure out new plans for their children. And many students who have after-school sports and clubs are now unsupervised for 20 minutes because their coaches and advisors aren’t getting here on time—especially if they are traveling from another school. Anything that I can do to try to fix this mess? Should I ask a committee to look at all of this again?–Principal with Arrival-and-Dismissal Migraines.
Dear Principal Migraines:
There are two times of the day that can cook a principal: arrival time and dismissal time. What’s done is done. But there are a few things you can do to preemptively attack other problems like this one and also get ready for next school year:
- Try not to make any on-the-spot or quick decisions about anything that is crucial without talking to as many people as possible who are involved. Safety protocols are the types of things that need the most care and attention. While your intentions were good and it seemed like you solved the arrival problem, you created another problem as a result.
- Make sure you identify the differences between your management and leadership duties–as these are two separate things (of course, sometimes there is overlap). Parents don’t want to hear about shared decision-making for arrival and dismissal flaws. They just want it to work. And, they expect it to work. If you had a committee work on this behind the scenes, that’s fine, but you are probably getting killed by the perception that you don’t know what you are doing—which is sometimes the hardest thing for a school leader to face. Here are some points to ponder as you plan out and prioritize all of your management and leadership duties.
- Plan and prepare your duties and tasks at least one month in advance. It could have been easier for transportation to review bus runs and adjust times without touching your school day times. At least one month in advance, meet with transportation and mental map all of your bus runs with them. You should walk way with exactly what you need to start off the school year on the right foot.
- Don’t ever think that you can’t ask for help. Even if you think that your decision is the best decision, you might not be seeing all of the angles.
Thanks for writing!
You can read Rick and Rebecca’s previous post here.
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