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Learning from the mistakes we make


by Tom Gayda
“(Journalism) kids have rights. They have the right to be right. They have the right to make mistakes and the right to learn from those mistakes.”

So are the words of this year’s JEA Administrator of the Year—and my principal—Evans Branigan III.

If only more folks in administrative jobs would get behind this philosophy. Just like any students participating in any other activities, mistakes are made. Some mistakes are small, some not-so-small, but it is important educators provide an experience that is real to their students, and a safety net to catch them should they err.

What can we do to get others to live by my principal’s motto? Educate, educate, educate.

When things are calm, meet with your principal and tell them how you’d like to one day see them with the JEA Administrator of the Year award. Share the quote. Talk about the positive things that can happen when a collaborative relationship is built. Don’t let each other assume the relationship has to be contentious. Change the tone if you can.

Too many young advisers—and administrators—assume one can’t trust the other. Not true! It might be necessary to simply change the culture. Start my acknowledging you both want what is best for the kids. Then explain what your goals are. Ask your administrator what he or she expects. If these don’t match up, find the common ground you can build from.

There have been several JEA Administrators of the Year. Each state is honored to have individuals who work hard to ensure students are free to practice what we teach. Let’s celebrate all of these people and share their successes so others who might not be as up to speed have a chance to learn from their peers and see that everything is going to be OK.

Administrators also have the right to make mistakes. It’s up to us to help them correct themselves.

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