“The purpose of discipline is to disciple; discipline is teaching, not punishment.”
Discipline is something all principals encounter in their work even if they don’t deal with it directly. This is always difficult, especially at first. It’s downright intimidating if you lead a tough school.
If you are a leader, chances are you're an idea person. You see not only reality, but possibility. As a result, you probably generate many good ideas and are eager to see those ideas implemented by your teams, departments, schools or districts. But before you move that idea into the mandate column, you must ask yourself one critical question: What do I want my people to stop doing in order to do this new thing instead?
“Focus change where it will last the longest and stay the strongest.”
I’ve often joked in my workshops that if school were a superhero, it would be called Immutable Man! And its superpower would be the ability to resist change no matter what anyone did to it. People expect us to change schools the way we change world health. When we beat Polio or Small Pox it usually stays beat. Once a solution is found and widely applied, the problem is solved or at least dramatically reduced in severity. In school, however, the ideals of progress are always threatened by the realities of regress. I’ve seen schools turned around with one or two years of hard work only to see them turn right back just as quickly when key people leave, when districts change policies that negate essential elements of a school’s success, or when the keys to the building are transferred from one principal to the next.
“Leadership is less about being in charge and more about being in change.”
Principals have many things to manage, but management is not what being a principal is principally about. When we speak of someone as a good manager, we do so with praise and respect for what they can maintain. They manage well, often through judicious use of their authority, keeping all the balls they juggle from ever hitting the ground. They keep their head above water, even when the water runs fast and deep, often by encouraging those they manage to swim hard with them against the current.