Staff Management: The Human Element

As the commercial says, the Human element is the most important one. After 12 years as an adviser, you’d think I’d have it mastered. You would be wrong. I am always stumbling in that area. I either push them too hard, or not hard enough. I either focus too much time on one student or ignore another one. I always hope that I can “reform” a kid who’s left the path. But then I get angry when they stray further.

I often think about my successes, like one kid – I’ll call her J. She was a feisty, trouble filled sophomore when she first came on my yearbook staff. In the first month, she got into a fight with another staff member – in the yearbook room.

But something told me to keep giving her chances. Eventually, J showed her true colors. She had a tough exterior, but inside was a heart of gold. We went to “ROPES” a team building exercise. While we were there I saw her open up to the rest of the staff and J almost cried that day.

Eventually J became one of my top editors. And before graduation she did cry. She thanked me for “letting her stay in yearbook.” I told her it was my pleasure to have her in my class. J was a success.

Another time I was not so lucky. A former photographer, we’ll call her A, did not respond to anything I tried. A was a bright kid. Very bright. Top of her class, all honors. A was set to be the editor her senior year. It was then that everything fell apart. A stopped doing her work – even taking pictures. A was a talented photographer. I had to remove her from her position after several warnings. Then I finally had to send her to the counselor after she continued to sleep in class. A never would tell me why she changed so much. A became closed and didn’t even graduate. She failed several classes that semester. Luckily I had a great pair of kids a sophomore and a junior to fill the gap.

I’m in a crisis now. Two of my most reliable kids V & L are both having personal meltdowns. It is splashing over into their yearbook work and attitude. Both will be seniors next year. I can only hope that if I give them some time and understanding, they can come back next year and do a good job. But I’m having to prepare myself for the worst.

I really hate this part of the job. Managing kids is hard work. We spend a lot of time with them, more than most other teachers ever do. We see them grow and mature, but we also have to see them fail and sometimes it is hard to watch. Sometimes they rebel or just lose interest.

I often wonder how other advisers deal with their Human Element?

Mr. C

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