5 Ways Education is Like Game of Thrones

Winter is coming! With the return of Game of Thrones to the airwaves, I was inspired to write an article based on this tremendous series. As I prepared for the new season, I thought about the history of the series and began to draw some parallels to the world of education, specifically working in the K-12 environment. Yes, the ideas in this piece are a bit exaggerated, but I believe that they hold some truth.

Here are 5 ways working in education is like Game of Thrones:

  1. Who is that?

A few main characters anchor Game of Thrones. However, there are dozens of other characters that come in and out of the show that hold pivotal roles and are important to the entire story line. When these characters appear, one can spend a great deal of time trying to remember their name and the role they play in the story line. Then, as quickly as they appear in the show, they are gone for several seasons.

In the education world, most teachers rarely work directly with district level administrators. Once or twice per year, teachers receive emails from these district administrators with directions or procedures. Teachers struggle to figure out who this district level administrator is and what role they have in the district. Then just as quickly as the email appeared, they don’t receive another communication from them for the rest of the year.

  1. Who is in charge?

Game of Thrones is full of kings, queens, princes, princesses, lords, and ladies. It is hard to remember who leads which land, army, or kingdom. Furthermore, who is in charge seems to change every season. The same can be true of education. Turnover rates for school and district administrators can be high, leaving the rest of the team struggling with constant changes and lack of leadership. In high turnover districts, there can be a constant question as to who is in charge of what.

  1. Winter is Coming!

Budget shortfalls, lack of state revenue, district cutbacks, and furlough days cycle back around every five years or so. Educational organizations seem to be always preparing for “winter”. Planning for these shortfalls start years before the reserves actually begin to deplete. It is a sad reality that educators must deal with time and time again. However, steps can be made to minimize the pain of these cutbacks. The main way to do this is to be fiscally responsible during the “healthy” years. Districts need to be careful in adding new positions and programs during these times as they will be first on the chopping block when “winter” comes.

  1. Watch Out For Dragons!

In the latest season of Game of Thrones, we finally get to see the dragon in action! By destroying whole armies or enemy in their path, they did not disappoint! Every organization has those individuals that have a scorched Earth mentality. They come in with a bang and wipe out systems, programs, and personnel that have been in place for years. It is vital that individuals that are new to the district take time to assess the needs of the district before breathing fire onto everything and everyone.

  1. We All Need The King In The North!

John Snow rose from obscurity to become the King In The North. He accomplished this by blazing his own path, not relying on history or out of date traditions. He has also been able to survive by creating strong partnerships with those around him that have a similar vision. With these partnerships, came more opportunities to change the world before him. Educational leaders also need to create strategic partnerships in order to survive. These networks are important to maintain personal well being, vision, and direction. They will also provide a safety net when going out on a limb or going against the grain.

Dr. David Franklin, CEO of The Principal’s Desk, is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions. He can be reached at david@theprincipalsdesk.org or at www.principalsdesk.org.

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