Focus on the Important Things

I (Megan) was having a reflective conversation recently with a colleague of mine, Dr. Amy Anderson, our Chief Administrative Officer of Elementary in Rockwall ISD, and she made the comment that as school leaders, we should make sure we only ask teachers to do things that matter, because they will give 100+% on everything we ask them to do.

That statement made an impact on me.  I could not agree more.  Teachers work hard.  They put in many, many hours beyond the school day doing such things as analyzing their students' data to identify areas of need, designing engaging lessons that involve the students, providing extracurricular opportunities for students, grading papers, tutoring, and simply doing whatever it takes to ensure their students are successful.  The things we ask of them should be things to help them grow as professionals and/or things that help their students grow.  If we are asking things of them that do not meet one of those two goals, then we need to re-evaluate whether it is something we should expect of them.

I am not a perfect principal. There are so many areas I am growing in, but one thing I have learned in my years as a principal is to be intentional with everything I ask of our team. As each school year comes to a close, we do a campus needs assessment to see where our students are and where we are as professionals.  We ask reflective questions such as: What are we doing well? In what areas do we need to grow? How are we doing in relationship to our campus goals and campus vision? What does both the qualitative and quantitative data tell us we need to focus on next year?  

From the information gathered in the needs assessment, we determine what our focus will be, we begin to write our campus goals for the year, and we build a yearlong professional learning plan that is intentional, focused and makes sense.  

For example, through our needs assessment last year, two of the things we learned that we needed to focus on were how to better support our English Language Learners in the general education classroom and how to better involve all students in the learning process in all classrooms.  From that focus, we began to develop our campus goals, our campus improvement plan, and our campus professional learning plan.  Having a comprehensive professional learning plan is crucial to helping both your students and your teachers grow while maximizing every minute of learning throughout the year.  It is thrilling to see your teachers grow right before your eyes when your professional learning plan makes sense.

With a clear campus focus, campus goals, and a comprehensive professional learning plan, everything is in alignment, and you, as the leader of your school, can ensure the things you ask of your teachers are things that are aligned to these goals and this plan.  Your teachers will give 100+% on the things you ask them to do, so make sure the things you are asking of them are the things that matter.  Let the rest go.

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