The Monkey On Your Back

I have struggled some time with the idea of what was next for me professionally.  I had entertained the idea of getting my administrative certificate for some time and kept putting it off, oddly out of fear of change.  However, as I started reading “True North” I became energized and felt a calling.  In taking this path, though, the immortal words of Uncle Ben came to mind, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”  The more I learn about leadership, the more it seems overwhelming at times.  As I continually observe my elementary principal, I see the huge responsibility she has and the stress that she is under and it scares me to death.

In addition, in the last two years, I have taken the initiative in our elementary school to start a much-needed problem-solving team focusing on identifying specific student needs and developing instructional plans with specific progress monitoring.  While developing this new team helps to keep us focused on what students can and need to do rather than what they cannot do, changing that culture and perception has been difficult.  Many staff want to use that problem-solving time as a time to pass “the problem” on to someone else rather than engage in productive problem-solving and focus on student success.  Needless to say, our team is still working on overcoming the five dysfunctions (Lencioni, 2002).

As I was reflecting on this very issue over the last couple of classes, I remembered an article that a principal had given me several years ago that addressed this very problem.  This article referenced Blanchard, Oncken, and Burrow’s (1989) “The One-Minute Manager Meets the Monkey.”  At the time, the principal was new and was in the process of inserting himself into a very headstrong school culture and had the huge challenge of understanding and molding that culture.  Through my online search, I was able to find a great series through “Education World” called “How I handled.”  It is a place where principals can give personal reflections on how they have handled issues.  This particular post addresses the issue of what to do when you are feeling overwhelmed by all the problems that are brought to your door as a principal and how to empower others to solve those problems rather than take on everybody else’s “monkey.”  Happy reading!

Blanchard, K. H., Oncken, W., & Burrows, H. (1989). The one minute manager meets the           monkey. New York: Morrow.

Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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