If you are like me you often work late in the evening about three or four nights a week. Most of my late nights are not spent at my desk shuffling papers or looking at test scores. Most of my late nights and weekends are spent supervising events that involve my students. In the fall it is football games on Thursday and Friday nights or volleyball during the week and maybe a cross-country meet on the weekend all mixed in with softball games. Not to mention the amount of time and effort our cheerleaders spend supporting our fall and winter programs. Winter brings on basketball three nights a week and wrestling matches every so often not to mention swim meets. Spring is the busiest with track, soccer, baseball, and spring football.
Sounds like a full schedule? I have not mentioned the chorus, drama, band, academic, club, holiday, graduation, and several other activities that all need to be attended throughout the year. I am fortunate that I have four assistant principals to help with attending these events and providing supervision as we host on average at least two or three things on our campus each afternoon and evening. Unlike some of my colleagues in other buildings, our administrators attend as many off campus activities as possible as well. I am sure we feel as you do that the administration needs to be at as many activities as possible.
Friday night under the lights is a special time for many high schools and in some towns everything shuts down for the game. Anyone who is someone attends the games especially if the team is having a good season. It is important for the leadership of the school to have a positive presence at the game and be available to spend time with students and parents as they attend what is arguably one of the most important events you will host as a school leader.
However, being visible and spending time with students and parents at a football game is only one of the reasons you should attend events outside the normal school day. As leaders of the school, it is important to attend events for several reasons.
Number five on my list of reasons to attend events is the one I mentioned above. The leadership of the school needs to be visible to stakeholders. So often we see students and parents when they are in trouble or when their grades are slipping. We should make every effort to visit with students and parents in a positive setting. An event does just that. We can walk around and visit with fans and share a few moments of “unofficial” time so that they get to know us on a different level. Sharing a little of your personal self will go a long way when those times arise that require us to share our “official” self with others.
Number four on my list of reasons to attend events is to show students, parents, and others that you are willing to give of yourself to support the program. Parents and students spend a great deal of time and money participating in extracurricular activities. Participation in extracurricular activities is a critical component of the success of our students and it is critically important for us to demonstrate how important we feel extracurricular activities are to the success of our students and our school. We do this by attending events. If it is important for our students to participate in extracurricular activities it is important for us to attend.
The concession stand area at half-time of the basketball game provides great opportunities to mingle with students and parents. These opportunities also demonstrate for fans the importance of attending events to support the team and their classmates.
Number three on my list of reasons to attend events is to support the tremendous work of our coaches and other adults involved in extracurricular activities. If you have ever coached or sponsored a club you know how much time and energy is involved working with these groups of students. It is very important that they know how much you support their work.
There are so many things that take place in a high school in addition to teaching the curriculum. Approximately 70% of our students are involved in extracurricular activities and for those activities to occur a certified teacher must serve as a coach or sponsor. These people work long hours for little or no pay because they enjoy working with students. The very least we can do is attend their events and show how much we appreciate what they do.
Number two on my list of reasons to attend events is to support our students that choose to participate. Approximately 70% of our students participate in some type of extracurricular activity and it is so critically important for them to know that we value their hard work and celebrate their decision to not only be successful students but also successful participants in whatever activity they choose to perform.
Drama students work very hard for months planning and rehearsing for their performance. They devote countless time and effort building sets, learning their lines, and rehearsing choreography to prepare for opening night. These students are so talented and their performances are always so enjoyable to watch. It is important that these students see you at their performances and for you to spend a little time after the performance telling them how much you enjoyed their performance and how much you appreciate their work and their devotion to the school.
Number one on my list of reasons to attend events is supervision. As principal, my first priority is to ensure that my students and those who attend our events have a safe an orderly environment when they participate in extracurricular activities. This includes establishing procedures for every aspect of the event. I need to be sure that everything associated with the event is appropriately planned and appropriately performed so that everyone involved in the event is safe and has a good time while they are on our campus.
One of my most challenging supervisory duties is PROM. Oh how I love to go to the prom. Prom is expensive for students and we want them to have a good time. At the same time I am responsible for their safety and for their behavior. We place reasonable expectations on our students during prom so that they arrive at prom and return back home safely. Sometimes that means protecting students from themselves. We ensure we have more than enough teachers to supervise the students and hire security to ensure we have a law enforcement presence.
Attending events is extremely important and when performed appropriately can be extremely rewarding. Students appreciate you attending their events and will most often conduct themselves in an appropriate manner when they know that administration will be in attendance and will hold them accountable for their behavior. You and I have both been to events that were not well supervised and seen the inappropriate actions of some who were in attendance. Do you want to be that school? I surely don’t.
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