Does your personal schedule and use of time reflect your priorities within the school’s vision and mission?
Administrators have to prioritize their focus as many things try to steal away the minutes from their day. As the instructional leader of the building it is vital to model for others the expectations to accomplish the vision and mission established. If it is not important to the leader then why would it be important to anyone else? Let’s say you show up 5 minutes late to a meeting. You just demonstrated to the staff that you do not value their time and the meeting wasn’t really important. It is difficult to find this balance, but so very important to help move your building forward as you work on school improvement.
Establish a calendar to help you monitor how much time you spend on activities. Look at the percentage of time you spend on discipline, management, meetings, parent contacts, classroom walkthroughs and time to provide direct feedback. Reflect at the end of the week to see what kind of percentages you have. Do you like what you see? If you do not, what can you do to improve the percentages in the areas you feel are important to sustain the vision and mission of the school?
As you calculate the percentages, also look at the time of day and the day of the week itself. Now you need to sit down and look at the organizational chart you have established within your building. What can be done to help protect your time? What can be delegated? Are you working with a shared leadership model? Are you building a strong capacity of teacher leaders?
Can you meet with your team to establish a plan together to protect your time and to help you improve your percentages to demonstrate the importance of the vision and mission? Once you meet with your team, establish a plan and then implement the plan; revisit each week with the team what the percentages are and report on the progress. This will help everyone understand you are working to make improvements and everyone will understand how important this is to the success of the school.
No my personal schedule did not always reflect the priorities of the school vision and mission. I was often side tracked by union issues, district leadership needs, discipline and other management issues. At the end of the day, I would reflect back and think something has to change in order to make substantial school improvement. I did exactly what I stated earlier with my calendar. I set goals each week to establish time dedicated to instruction (walkthroughs, coaching, modeling, PLC time with grade levels, individual meetings with staff). The most valuable tool was feedback that was specific. Spending time on learning how to have these conversations was very important to me, as well as helping staff learn how to have these conversations with their students. Going one more step further with common core, is to now have students have direct feedback with each other. Questioning techniques and much more will help rigor within the classroom.
In referencing Doug Reeves again, he once said “Pull the weeds before you plant the flowers”. As the school leader, you have to really take a look at what is stealing your time and work to focus on your priorities. I had the opportunity to be involved in the SAM project while serving as a middle school principal. I saw great results when I had an effective SAM working with me. Many of the techniques can be implemented without hiring a new staff member, but utilizing staff members already in place. Resources to use: Insights into Action by William Sterrett, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjSFJJg5CQY
Mrs. Brenda Yoho is the Director of Educational Support Programs for Danville CCSD 118 in Danville, IL. You can contact her at [email protected].