Stop…and think!

Last week, we had many staff members away at the ReImagineering Catholic Education conference including the other two members of our admin team. As always, there was 50 000 things to do including interviewing for 2 SNTA positions.

My principal forwarded an email to me that was from the organizer of our athletic league. The purpose of this email was for us to encourage our staff members to attend a playoff football game that our undefeated Senior Boys team was playing in. Basically, the message was that it was our responsibility to create an “adult presence” and to supervise the students in the stands. My principal asked if I would send an email out to staff on her behalf. One of the team managers had sent out an email message containing a roster and an invitation to the game.

Without really thinking I did a “reply to all” (from my Blackberry) with the following message:

  • Good Afternoon,
  • We were contacted by the league to encourage as many of our staff as possible to attend the game so there will be an “adult presence” there.
  • They always have great hot chocolate at Clarke Park.
  • :DH

There…message sent! One more thing off my “to do” list.

One of our more experienced teachers came to see me a little while later to ask me why my message was so harsh. Harsh?? I thought…was it harsh? She explained to me that the staff had read the message and thought, “Great, now we are expected to supervise football games, too.” Totally not what I had intended. We had a great chat and I offered to send out a follow-up email.
This time, I gave it some thought. I sent out this message with a link to the animation (below).

      • Hi again everyone,
      • I wanted to clarify.  It would be great to see as many of you at the game because the games are a great chance to do something fun together as a staff.  The kids love it when they see us in the stands.
      • Here is a video of a conversation that I had with Louise earlier.
      • See you at the game!
      • Derek
Well, I have to say this had a much better reception.  It got the message across and it gave people an opportunity to laugh.
What did I learn:
1. Think before you act…even about little things…even when you are busy.
2. There are many ways to get a message out.
3. GoAnimate is fun and extremely easy to use and an account is free!
4. Relationships with people are so important.
5. More experienced female teachers love to be depicted as young and shapely.
Thanks for letting me tell my story.

About Derek Hatch
Principal in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

2 Responses to Stop…and think!

  1. wferriter says:

    I love it, Hatch.

    What this shows is a willingness to be transparent and honest with your faculty. There’s vulnerability here — and to teachers, that vulnerability matters.

    It shows that you’re human and that you’re willing to admit when YOU make mistakes.

    There are too few school leaders willing to do that — and it creates tension and hurt feelings between faculty members and their bosses.

    Good stuff.

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