Do the right work

24 principals in a big room on Tuesday…

Do we know what ‘the right work’ is? Can we identify it and label it? Can we tell the difference between ends and means? Between desired outcomes and strategies? PLCs, Common Core, RTI, concept-based instruction, PBIS, 1:1, and Daily 5 are NOT the end goal, they’re just strategies and mechanisms to get us from here to there. Engaged learners, quality facilitating, and rigorous curriculum get us closer…

Painful

Can we create time and structures that allow us to do the right work? Do, plan, delegate, eliminate. What do we do that falls into each of these boxes? More importantly, what can/should we move into ‘delegate’ and ‘eliminate?’ WHY IS THIS SO HARD FOR US? As Jeff Herzberg notes, we’re awfully expensive cafeteria monitors (and substitute teacher finders and class schedulers and bus duty monitors and …).

And then it gets really hard. What are our own immunities to change? What is stopping us from changing what we KNOW we need to change about our own work? And by the time we’re done, we’re stating some big (testable) assumptions:

  • I assume that if I do have honest conversations, then my teachers won’t “like” me and then they’ll lose faith in my leadership ability.
  • I assume that if I do delegate the way I need to in order to be a strong educational leader, then building morale will spiral on a downward path because of the notion that I am being lazy and not doing my job.
  • I assume that if I’m not in the flow of information, then I will lose my sense of power and be just another person going through the motions.
  • I assume that if I ask people to make meeting appointments [instead of just popping into my office], then they will think I am stuck up and will think that I don’t think they matter. Ending in they won’t like me.
  • I assume that if my staff knew that I didn’t know everything about our initiatives, then they would lose respect for me. It would change how they view me as their leader.
  • I assume that if I do not [personally] take on all of those duties that could be delegated, then certain parts of the school day will be chaotic and this will be a reflection of me as a leader.
  • I assume that if I do force change and push the envelope, then I will lose credibility with our staff.
  • I assume that if I force too much change, alienate staff, or go against prevailing culture, then I will be seen as a liability and my position will be eliminated.

A powerful day of reflection, conversation, and internal interrogation. Thank you, Troyce Fisher.

Image credit: Painful, Ben Raynal

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