Thursday, February 25, 2016

Trust, Safety, and Big Rocks

Are you one of those people who sees a bunch of improvement efforts that need to be undertaken and you want to do them all?  Or, are you one of those people who grabs a hold of one thing and runs with it until it is done?  Then you grab then next thing and see it through to the end.  Then the next.  It may not be prioritized, but you get things done!  Are you one of those people who constantly have so many frying pans sizzling that you can't even remember what is cooking?  Things eventually get finished, but there are always  numerous improvement efforts happening at all times!

Prioritizing improvement efforts is one of the toughest things we do in education.  Lately, I have been thinking about them like this:
  1. Urgent improvements
  2. Needed improvements
  3. Desired improvements
Urgent things demand attention, don't they?  Urgent improvement efforts are usually centered around a need involving safety or a crisis.  Ignoring a crisis is not a good idea.

How many urgent situations pop up on any given day?  If too many occur, it is impossible to focus on the important things.  When your time is spent on crises, the big rocks are ignored!

As I look at all the great things going on around this campus, it is in my nature to always think about improvement!  No matter how great things are, they can always get a little better!  Because I think that way, I typically have too many frying pans burning!  To make matters more complicated for myself , I also like to think things through.  Once a good plan has been designed, I do appreciate a dive into the deep end of that pool!  But I do like to talk things through with smart people before jumping in.

In order to take care of the big rocks instead of too many urgent situations, I have learned that the two biggest rocks a school can focus on are safety and trust.  Oftentimes those two go hand-in-hand.  Providing a safe place for kids is a must.  Good relationships that are built on trust is also a must.  Focusing efforts in these two areas is a must.

In order to minimize urgent improvement efforts and focus on the needed improvements and the desired improvements, excellent systems for safety must be solidly in place.  These systems must be well-communicated and owned by all.  When trust is high, relationships are excellent, and safety systems are solid, the fun work happens!

A focus on incredible learning becomes the primary target!  Fun!