Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Axioms for Christian School Administrators

Some lessons I learned that kept me from discouragement, insanity, and quitting during my decade as a school administrator.  Ironically, I did eventually quit--to become a pastor.  Which reminds me--these principles have crossover applications for pastors as well. 
  1. You cannot make everyone happy, including teachers, parents, board-members and students.   In fact, in the normal course of operation, you are quite likely to make someone mad.  
  2. Happy parents will seldom tell you they are happy.  Unhappy parents will not shut up about it. 
  3. Unhappy parents talk to other parents. 
  4. At any given time, some rather significant portion of the constituency will be unhappy with something about the school.   
  5. Every year some families will leave because they do not like something about you, the rules, students, teachers, curriculum, or the school in general.   
  6. Once a family decides to withdraw, their case for leaving grows exponentially. 
  7. Administrators do not have a toggle switch to turn off bad behavior or attitudes in others.  Do not get frustrated that you cannot simply throw a switch and make it go away. 
  8. Administrators are trying to accomplish the nearly impossible task of coordinating the interrelationships of hundreds of sinful people (including themselves) who all have different beliefs about education, discipline, child-rearing, right-and-wrong, etc.   You cannot expect it to be smooth.  
  9. Administrators are not responsible for the sinful natures of the students.   They bring their depravity with them. 
  10. The people most responsible for students’ habitual displays of depravity are the students themselves and their parents. 
  11. Mere rules and regulations will not prevent the depravity of students from asserting itself. 
  12. Students, especially girls, will bicker with and complain about one another.  There is little you can do about it. 
  13. Relationships can be difficult in Christian Schools because the pool of relationships is smaller, and students cannot simply go find another group of friends. Public schools, being larger, have a natural advantage in this area.  
  14. Schools have a natural ebb and flow of enrollment from year to year both in particular grades and across the school. 
  15. Once every few years, Christian schools inevitably cycle through difficult times, hardship, and crisis.  
  16. Large numbers of Christian school students tend to transfer elsewhere between 8th grade and 9th grades. 
  17. Most Christian schools struggle to keep students in high school.  Students naturally lust for the apparent vim and vitality of student life in public schools and exert tremendous pressure on parents to let them transfer. 
  18. Most schools have problems, but be patient, and eventually they may transfer elsewhere. 

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