I've been thinking quite a bit lately about the division of duties in schools with multiple administrators -- specifically those at the middle and high-school levels with two or three (or six!) assistant principals. I've developed in my mind a model of the division of responsibilities that may or may not work for you, but here's my take on it.
I know, I know - we've talked about how schools are like baseball teams, basketball teams, etc, ad infinitum, but those models address the entire school and are basically all variations on the same theme. What's caught my interest lately are the specific roles that each of us play on a highly cohesive, highly effective school leadership team.
The admin team in my building meets every Monday at 8am for what is supposed to be a one hour meeting where we all "get on the same page" about what's going on in the school. My cake-baking model is relevant to this situation because it helps each of us appreciate exactly what the others on the team need to know about what we're up to. (Note that I just like cake. There is no reason this couldn't be the Pizzeria Model or the Mexican Restaurant for effective administrative teams...)
The Cake-Baking Model
The Principal is the bakery owner. He is interested in making sure his customers have access to the tastiest, best-looking cakes in town. He doesn't need to know what type of flour is used, whether the eggs are large or jumbo, or how many drops of vanilla extract are added. He may need to know when it's time to order more of the above ingredients. He definitely needs to know what flavors, shapes, and sizes of cakes are offered. Do we offer layer cakes? Sheet cakes? Cup cakes? Does it come in chocolate? Vanilla? Carrot? The owner needs the global perspective and he needs to leave the recipe-tweaking to the experts.
This, of course, brings up an important point. He needs to hire people for his bakery team who are experts in what they do, but who are not carbon-copy clones of each other with the same skill sets. Preferably, the bakery owner hires a cake-baker with far more cake-baking expertise than he has.
Similarly, he should be recruiting an icing maker who is a virtuoso with frosting.
Now let's assume our
school bakery -- has two assistant principals bakers. One is responsible for the cake, the other for the icing. You see where I'm going with this by now, but essentially my point is that the baker in charge of the cake does not need to know every ingredient -- much less the quantity of every ingredient that goes into the icing. He does, however, need to be reasonably certain that if he's baking a carrot cake the icing guy isn't doing dark chocolate icing that day.
Conversely (or is it contrapositively?), the icing-making baker does not need to know the intricate details of the cake recipe. But again, it bears mentioning that he should not be making coconut icing if the cake guy is doing red velvet cake that day.
So communication is key as each of the bakers needs to know what's going on in the bakery that day. The bakery owner has a significant say in the kind of cake that will be produced and the bakers then do their thing, working in concert to deliver a high-quality product.
In my world, I am the Master Schedule Guy. As the MSG, it was my job last month to figure out how to accommodate more than 100 students we didn't expect to enroll and who pushed an already full building to over 1700 students. This involved deciding in which subjects additional sections were needed, deciding when the most students would be able to take the course, deciding if we had open rooms during those times, minimizing teacher traveling, and even building a brand new math teacher schedule while advertising and hiring for the position. What my colleagues need to know in all this is that we have some new sections being opened up (I gave them a 1-page summary of those new sections as far as what teacher, when, where) and that they could expect some parent calls as we had to move some kids' schedules around to level the new ones with the existing ones. That's it. If they wanted to know more, they could certainly swing by my office, but by and large they're pretty busy doing that they do and were appreciative of the heads-up without all the gory details of why I chose the period/teacher/class/room I did.
Thanks for reading. I'm off to the local bakery because writing this has got me jonesing for a slice of German chocolate cake.
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Photo credit: PinkCakeBox