In the last Geneva’s Guidance, I provided the Top 10 Empowerment Tools for school administrators. I am grateful for the abundance of interest in school administrator empowerment training. To supplement the top 10 list, I have decided to write a series of Geneva’s Guidance exploring and providing real-world guidance on each of the empowerment tools. We start with the first one, We Have Always Done it This Way.

My response to that statement is generally, “That is lovely, but what does the law or school district policy say?” School administrators must be empowered to Get Back to Basics. The question they must ask is, “What does the law say and what is best for students?” We have always done it this way is not a valid argument, period.

Get Back to Basics is not a catchphrase; it is an empowerment tool for school administrators. The focus in our classrooms has shifted from remote memorization to critical thinking. That shift must continue into our school administration. Over the years, schools have developed countless guidelines, procedures, standards, and processes for educators. We have been following the processes for so long we assume they are required. Many of these 20th Century procedures are not founded in the law, but on work-around or stop-gaps to address a situation. Empower your administrators to get back to basics.

The critical thinking question is, what does the law say and what is best for students? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. (Attributed to both Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin) If your processes are not yielding the results you intend, empower your administrators to ask the question and find the answer.

Your administrators are not the only ones who hear “we have always done it this way.” As a consultant, I often hear that phrase during empowerment training and audits. The phrase is usually offered to explain unnecessary and burdensome processes and procedures. Empowering administrators to critically look at what is not working and develop a 21st-century approach will unclutter the process and allow educators to focus on educating children and not unnecessary or burdensome procedures. Get back to basics. What does the law say, and what is best for students?