How Job Descriptions Changed My School Forever
I am a leader of a charter high school, and to call myself a principal is unfair to the role. I know principals, and they work around the clock, do the job correctly — and are by definition, a principal.
However, until just recently I was in charge of HR, State Reporting, Academics, Organization, CTE, Finances & Budget, Special Education, Testing, Technology, and Discipline. I prepared monthly board reports, wrote over a million dollars in grants, hired almost everyone in the school but 4 staff members, conducted all professional development, and wrote our school contracts for the union.
Now, that said, I know principals — and they aren’t doing that.
But my school is smaller, so I don’t go to games and we have events but they aren’t weekly — so I’m not always on the clock. I used that reference as an example as to why I never thought to change my title.
I have an AP now, and because he’s new I’ve trained him and give him exposure to everything. He is amazing, and will be a fine principal at some point here soon — I have no doubt. But when I look at him, I see myself. When I go into the office, I notice so many things I need to address. When I hear from staff, I know I can do better. So many areas need attention, and we’re only able to do so much.
What am I to do?
I made a huge mistake this week, and the result was that someone wasn’t going to get paid when they thought they would. I immediately looked to find the source, but stopped after I had a realization that it would most certainly circle back to me. It has to because I’m in charge.
I let my guard down.
I let COVID get me distracted.
I wasn’t feeling right.
There were so many other people involved but myself, so it’s not just me.
Although all of the above are true, none were getting that person a paycheck.
This was a disaster.
I went home and didn’t sleep that night. I thought about it for hours, until I came up with the following: I have an awesome staff, but I’m not using my people appropriately.
What I mean is, I don’t want to give more stuff to everyone else — that’s deflective. I need to maximize the efficiency of those that we do have on staff, so all of us are working on separate things, in our own way, that brings us successes, and then we move on to the next task.
I am doing this, by redefining job descriptions.
And so I’m starting from the top. I consider my AP and I on the same shelf, and under us, I wrote all of the major tasks we are responsible for. I considered his strengths and what he loves, and gave him that. I took what I knew he couldn’t and gave myself that. What was left, we evenly distributed between us both. I called him in and talked to him about it — and he was psyched!
His response was, “Dude, now I can really get good at a few things here!”
I was thinking he was going to be pissed because he wanted exposure to everything, and I hated when my past principals wouldn’t let me in — I felt it prevented me. However, now I’m wondering if they were trying to allow me to be sain and hone in on a craft that I could master before learning something new.
I doubt it — but maybe???
Then we went to the administrative assistants, and asked them to come up with their tasks. We divided them into what they wanted in a discussion including them, so we could sort of give them what they want, all the while ensuring that everything will be done.
From there, I had rewritten 4 major job roles that the entire daily functioning of a school system included. Whoa — it was like a breath of fresh air for everyone! With masks of course…
Then, we moved on to the counselor, and teachers who held additional responsibilities. I found that when I asked someone what would make their job better — they told me. Weird.
This week, we were able to reorganize job roles that make sense for us all. I guess this happened because I made the worst mistake ever. Call it my rock bottom — and I could only go up from there.
By redefining job descriptions and therefore staff responsibilities, we redefined who did current tasks, ensuring that things will get done more efficiently, and everyone has buy in because they were a part of it.