One thing that never seems to be in short supply in the learning organizations I work with is a steady stream of new priorities, initiatives, and programming. There’s always an agenda, pet project, new idea, or something fresh, exciting, and game changing that’ll make all the difference for everybody in the organization.
I get it. I do. And I’ve created my fair share of acronyms and new work, work that didn’t start necessarily at the end of the old, but work that had to be squeezed into the mix of already happening stuff.
The thing is, there’s an awful lot of priorities established way high up that find their way down to classrooms, schools, and districts. And each new one requires a change of some kind, a new emphasis on the one more thing that must get done.
But very, very rarely does the new push come with the requirement of stopping to do the things from the last great idea or priority that was really going to fix things. So it’s not just that a school has to get better at something new, but it has to keep doing all the other stuff it was doing before.
So here’s my idea for the new initiative of 2015.1 How about we take a look at the 37 odd 1st priorities that have been established for our classrooms, schools, and districts, and just go ahead and cut at least a third of them. 33% of the stuff we used to do? Let’s not do it anymore. If you must add something new to the plate after that, that’s fine – but you must cut a third of the old stuff first.
We can’t get better at new things, or the old things we’ve gotten crummy at while we’re working on the new things, if we don’t stop doing at least a few of the other things. And deciding what we’re not going to do is a big ol’ step towards getting better at what we’re going to do instead.
So let’s get right on that. What will you stop doing this year?
- Superintendents, you’re welcome to this one. [↩]