Great Reminders for the Upcoming School Year

I was recently reminded of two important lessons I wanted to share as we approach another school year.

  1. Problem Solving – takes many forms 🙂

This year we will no doubt talk about how it is critical that we develop the problem solving skills of our students.We will discuss how it’s so much more than the “problem of the week” in Math, but rather a way of thinking. It requires our students to be resilient, to think “outside of the box”… and all of those other cliche’s.

I was recently on the receiving end of some excellent problem solving skills while in Kelowna for my daughter’s soccer tournament. While checking in to the Holiday Inn Express on Thursday, we encountered a problem. Our reservation didn’t begin until Friday! There’s a long story behind this but that’s for another post.

As the stress began to rise for my wife and I, with our two daughters waiting in the vehicle (eyeballing the waterslide and pool) we waited while the customer service rep looked for any rooms within the hotel. Unfortunately nothing … with the exception of the executive suite on the top floor, with only one bed and out of our price range.

Normally this would be where we leave the hotel stressed, discouraged and panicked looking for another room somewhere else; however the employee at the hotel took action. We could see her typing…fretting…speaking with the other front desk attendants… frowning… then she went back to her computer and with a few more key strokes came up with a creative Covey “Win Win solution.

She picked up the phone and called another guest who was arriving that evening. After ensuring that he was not travelling with his family, she offered him, as a valued member of the club, a free upgrade to the executive suite for his stay that evening. She then gave us his room.

Lesson Learned: Go above and beyond for our kids and parents. Take a new approach to solving an old problem. Even …Especially if it’s not your fault 🙂

2. Relationships… build them from day one!

During our stay we continued to be impressed with the level of service we received from the various employees. Hotel workers always greeted us with a smile, several asked my daughter how soccer was going… one worker even asked what she had won a medal for and complemented her on it!

While this sort of service isn’t unheard of (though it seems to be more difficult to find now than in the past), it made a difference to us. When we did run into a problem, (the lack of hot water for a shower one morning), I didn’t even feel the need to complain. The positive groundwork had already been laid by the staff and I was confident they were addressing the problem.

The following evening we ran into another problem. Our team’s rooms were directly above the conference centre where a wedding was being hosted. We ended up enjoying 80’s rock well into the evening with “DJ Dave” even though we weren’t officially invited.

Another parent on the team went to the front desk to complain and before a conflict could  arise the front desk staff had apologized and said that they would reduce the cost of not only her room for that evening, but for the rooms of the entire team!

Lesson learned: Empower your people to make decisions and solve problems.

I hope these reminders serve you well in the upcoming school year!

Shaye Patras

Principal, Woodhaven Middle School

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About SPatras

I am a husband and father of two fantastic girls. I currently work as the Principal of Woodhaven Middle School in Parkland School Division in Alberta, Canada. I am excited to be continuing my administrative career in this learning community!
This entry was posted in Fostering Effective Relationships, Managing School Operations and Resources, Providing Instructional Leadership and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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