Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Reader Asks... Five Assistant Principal Hacks - Part 2

In response to the 4/14/16 post, “Five Assistant Principal Hacks,” a LYS campus administrator asks:


Tell me more about #4, “Take care of discipline in the hallway, outside the classroom, not in your office.”

Thank you,

SC Response
I figured this one out within the first month of being an assistant principal.

My first AP job was at a huge, inner-city high school.  The position was created because student discipline was out of hand, all the current administrators were overwhelmed, and the school was teetering on being unsafe. 

As soon as I got there, the other AP's dumped their old discipline referrals on my desk and sent the new discipline referrals, still in the hand of the offending student, to wait outside my office. Within a week, two things were immediately clear to me. 

1. The old referrals were often two months old. By the time I talked to the teacher and the student, usually neither could remember the details of the incident. Then, if I decided to administer a consequence that was either difficult on the student or inconvenient to the parent, the parents would push back.  Their valid argument, if the offense was that serious, why did we wait two months to do anything?

2. The students waiting to see me would often be in my office all day long, waiting for their turn to be punished.

So here's what I did.  I got AV cart, plastic file box and a laptop computer and took all of the office referrals that were older than two weeks and went class to class.  If there was a student that had an old office referral in the class, I called the student out, had a 30 second discipline conference where I told the student that this was his one warning.  Shape up or next time I'd double the consequence for not being smart enough to accept my one-time shock probation offer. The student and I then signed the office referral, I filed it in my file box and moved on to the next student and/or the next class.

While doing this, I caught a lot of students roaming the hallways and I observed a lot of lazy instructional and classroom management practices.  So I did two things while conducting my backlog rounds.

1. I escorted students back to their class, instead of telling them to get to class.

2. I constantly checked up on the classrooms where the teacher practice was fanning the flames of student misbehavior.

Within a month, the discipline referral backlog was cleared out. I had personally met and talked to the chronic offenders. I had spent walking/talking time with the chronic class skippers. And the teachers with the laziest classroom practices were slowly evolving because I checked on their classrooms multiple times a day.

Now, crazy as it seems, I actually had free time.  So I just kept up my rounds every period.  Dealing with all the small discipline referrals in the hallway and getting students into class.  

As one extra AP at an out-of control school, by proactive accident, I changed the entire student behavior culture of the campus in less than a semester. 

Did the other AP's follow suit? No. 

Did the principal recognize what was happening? No. 

Did I realize the power of what I was doing? No.  

But the Assistant Superintendent who created the emergency AP position did, and because of his recommendation and support, I became a Principal before all the other AP's on the staff.  At my new campus, taking care of discipline in the hallway became our SOP.

And at the HS campus I left, within a semester, adult practice and student performance had regressed back to the mean.

Think. Work. Achieve.
Your turn...
  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on! 
  • Now at the Apple App Store: Fun 5 Timer (Fundamental 5 Delivery Tool); PowerWalks CLC (Networked Formative Observation Tool) 
  • Upcoming Presentations: Texas Association of Secondary School Principals Conference (Multiple Presentations); Texas Elementary Principals and Supervisors Association Conference (Multiple Presentations); LYS / TASSP Advanced Leadership Academy (Keynote) 
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