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Monday, February 13, 2012


If you've ever visited a carnival or county fair and strolled along the booths with barkers beckoning you to their games of chance, then it's likely that you've seen a Whac-A-Mole game. If you've stopped and played Whac-A-Mole, then you have a pretty good idea about the role of a school leader. Here's how you play the game:

"A typical Whac-A-Mole machine consists of a large, waist-level cabinet with five holes in its top and a large, soft, black mallet. Each hole contains a single plastic mole and the machinery necessary to move it up and down. Once the game starts, the moles will begin to pop up from their holes at random. The object of the game is to force the individual moles back into their holes by hitting them directly on the head with the mallet, thereby adding to the player's score. The more quickly this is done the higher the final score will be." (from Wikipedia)

The random nature of when and where the moles pop up resembles the unexpected and quick burst of issues that typically face school leaders and displace well designed plans and full agendas. There are times when it seems like as soon as you solve one problem, another one surfaces in its place. At the end of days like that, you're exhausted from the unpredictable, anxiety producing concerns that have held you hostage and prevented you from addressing other matters. Once the last person leaves your office, the final email has been processed, and the phone stops ringing, you peek at your "To-Do" list, then glance up at the clock, and it's been over eleven hours since your work day started and few, if any, of your goals have been crossed off the list. You now feel like the Mole, because it feels like people have been hitting you directly on the head with a mallet. (and you don't win any stuffed animals either!)

This metaphor, of a school leader as a contestant playing Whac-A-Mole, will offer a description of the role and responsibilities of a principal or superintendent to those unaware of the challenges, and also help explain why tonight's Blog post is abbreviated from the normal length of entries. It's not like this every day, or very often for that matter, but it was today.

I'm tired...

Good night.

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