On Monday my wife and I stopped at a Waffle House for breakfast on our drive home from my sister’s wedding. Having patronized my wife’s favorite breakfast joint many times before, I was surprised to leave with an epiphany … not just a full belly.
If you’ve been to a Waffle House, you know things work there. The waitress takes your order, then stands five feet away from the cook and loudly announces your choices to him: “drop one hashbrown in the ring” … “one sausage, egg and cheese plate: scatter, smother cover” … “pull one bacon“. It’s crazy: everyone in the room knows what you are having.
I’ve experienced this before. All of it. But this time I finally understood.
This little ritual is not about telling the secret of my palate’s desires. It’s about transparency. You see, the guys sitting at the bar razing the waitress don’t care what I want to eat. Neither does the couple in the corner; nor the old man that dumps half the pepper shaker on his eggs. They do each want to eat the food that they ordered though. And hearing the waitress say the order out loud assures all of us that what we requested is what we will get.
Am I that transparent as a principal? When a parent has a concern, how do they know that I actually did anything about it? What assurance of timely action on my part does a teacher in need of assistance have? Does the superintendent hope that I am working towards the goals we set as a system or must he cross his fingers and wait for the test scores to come in?
In my experience most people would rather have transparency than a favorable response of dubious credibility. They would rather have me say “I don’t know, but I will fix it” than offer platitudes and false promises. As the new school year approaches, I resolve to remember this simple reminder to let my light so shine before all people.