We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse. ~Rudyard Kipling
It is amazing how quickly our minds go to the art of making excuses. Second nature, really. Our rationale, and justifications, serve as a salve for stinging criticism, public failure, or feelings of guilt.
Recently, a former student has been offering up some rather pointed criticism of our school via social media. The posts are an embellished mix of the student’s perceived reality and inflammatory language. The writing is easily dismissed as the immature ramblings of a spurned teenager – someone looking to cause trouble. So…why am I having such a hard time being dismissive?
As I considered the potential reasons for this student’s vindictive posts, I immediately began excusing my responsibility in the matter. I wasn’t aware of any problems or issues. The student never came to see me about concerns. I never heard from a parent. I’m not even sure who this kid is….
I’m not even sure who this kid is.
Maybe if I knew who the kid was, I would have noticed an issue. Maybe I would have asked questions. Maybe I would have noticed a change. Maybe I would have spoken to a parent. Maybe I would have gone out of my way to encourage and advocate.
Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference…or maybe it would have made all of the difference.
During my time as a school administrator, I have been diligent in my efforts to get out of my office – spending time on campus, in classrooms, and interacting with kids. There can be no argument that these efforts are an essential part of effective school leadership – if you are not visible, approachable and knowledgeable about what is happening on your campus you will not be seen as a leader. In spite of my efforts, I fear I still fall short of “knowing” my students. In fairness, there are over 900 of them, but they are ALL my students, so shouldn’t I know who they are?
To that end, here is my first goal for the 2012-13 school year. I am going to learn the name of every student on my campus. I am certainly not equating knowing the names of my students with knowing them as individuals…but I think it is a start. It will begin a dialogue, demonstrate that I value each and every kid on our campus, and hopefully help students develop a greater degree of familiarity and comfort interacting with me.
There are a million reasons that would prevent me from accomplishing this goal.
But not a single excuse.