Head of School, Barry Hughes, reflects on the importance of establishing relationships school wide.
A couple of years back I wrote a blog entitled “The Dance Floor and the Balcony” in which I argued that it is very important for leaders to delegate responsibilities, and why it can be a bad thing when they get too involved in the detail of day-to-day school life. Of course, top-down decision-making is as common in schools as in any other organization, and for some, it can be difficult at first when it doesn’t happen. The boss can also find it safer to be in the thick of the action on the “dance floor,” solving problems and consumed in the day to day running of the school. But on the “balcony” you can take a step back from the detail and take a clearer, more strategic view of what is going on.
All of this might make you wonder why I am currently spending so much time at the front of the school when the students arrive when someone else could be out there. (I jokingly told someone it was to referee some of the arguments between drivers!) It is because I know that one of the most important aspects of a leader's role is to help establish school-wide relationships that develop the whole child. All healthy relationships are based on mutual respect and the first rule of respect is that no one in the school is invisible. Maybe, just maybe, by saying “Good morning,” or talking about the day to come, or really about anything at all, I can communicate to individual students that we know they exist, and that they are respected members of our community. I also believe that the more students engage in positive interactions with the Head of School, or with anyone in authority, the more comfortable they feel with the relationship.
These interactions also give me the opportunity to model civility and courtesy as well as show my commitment to the principles that help develop a healthy environment. Watching the US election unfold makes me think this is more important than ever!