The Walking Dead is one of my favorite shows. I like the interaction of the characters and how, when they’re at their best, they’re working together to overcome insurmountable odds. As school staff we too have to band together to resist the onslaught of disregard that is often brought against our profession. As the leader of a school building 3 indicators demonstrate that we’re ready to prevail and persevere even if a zombie apocalypse is on its way. (If you haven’t seen The Walking Dead and plan to, there are spoilers below.)
The relatively freshly widowed Maggie is a symbol of optimism and her unborn child epitomizes that hope. A principal must also be relentlessly optimistic and exude hope for her students’ futures. This hopefulness is often indicated by the welcoming smile that parents see when they drop their child off. You can see it when the principal is walking down the hall smiling at students and staff and knowing them by name. This optimism is also heard in the language they use. The community never hears the principal speaking poorly about his school or his district. Optimism is one of the major indicators that a school could survive a zombie apocalypse.
When you’re in survival mode collaboration is key. Rick is constantly looking for mutually beneficial relationships in order to keep his group safe. An example of this is the amount of effort he put forth to create a positive relationship with the kingdom. As a principal working together creates the strongest culture. Identify those key influencers on your staff and encourage their input. Use your student governing body to bring in student voice. It’s their future we’re fighting for. Rick has an end goal, destroying Negan he doesn’t really care how it happens. We too must have a goal that we would like to accomplish. Having all stakeholders come up with the means to get there is the key to success. No principal is an island, collaboration is another indicator that the zombie apocalypse is survivable.
In the Walking Dead series the characters must continually confront hard truths. Often it’s the death of a member of the group. As principals our hard truths will occur in the form of tough conversations. These are usually uncomfortable exchanges. However, they do provide an opportunity for growth. Just like in the show we get stronger and better at our job when we survive these conversations. We can be optimistic and collaborative but that doesn’t mean we are oblivious to reality. Poor performance, ugly data, and our own mistakes are all things we can’t ignore. Facing hard truths and working to overcome them is one more example of a school ready to face a zombie apocalypse.
The zombie apocalypse is a metaphor for what we face as principals and educators. Optimism, collaboration and facing the truth of tough situations are key indicators that our schools will survive and grow. What are other signs of strong schools. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......