“If everything is important, than nothing is.”
“Everything is important. That success is in the details.”
When I served as principal at a middle school several years ago, our leadership team was discussing time, specifically, the lack thereof and a perception that we allowed too many interruptions to instructional time during a typical school day. We were brainstorming ways to maximize instructional minutes and minimize class interruptions of any kind. It was my first year as
This story is a simple, but real, example of something my friend and colleague Anthony McConnell and I write about in our book, The Principled Principal: 10 Principles for Leading Exemplary Schools. The first principle we examine is what we term, “The Priority Principle” and, frankly, this remains a conundrum as
|Via Meredith Johnson |
As school leaders, we obviously need to prioritize our time. What we cannot do, however, is send the message that something we are doing at our school is not important or less important than something else we do. We should prioritize how much time we devote to every important thing we do, but we should not say one is more important than the other. School safety and crisis planning is extremely important, perhaps now more than ever. Is it more important than academics? Nope, but guess what? Academics are not more important than school safety and crisis planning either. They are equally important and we must do each to the very best of our abilities as educators. Although they are both important, it is foolhardy to debate whether one is more important than the other, What is appropriate is prioritizing how much time we devote to each. Although school safety is every bit as important as academic learning, over the course of a full school year we need not dedicate nearly as much time to crisis planning as we do to academic learning. So many things we do in schools are like this, yet we fall into the trap of saying this is more important than that. There exists a subtle, yet important, distinction between prioritizing something’s importance versus prioritizing the time we dedicate to something that is important.
So, Lencioni and Jobs were both right. Everything we do in schools is important, yet not everything merits the same amount of time devoted to it in order for us to ensure we have given it our best. A final challenge, though: I suspect we should periodically audit how we spend our time in schools, to make sure that everything we are doing is, indeed, important. I suspect we will discover some things that, upon reflection, are not important. When that is the case--as it was with the announcements we were making at one middle school years ago--we should stop devoting a single moment to them. There are too many things we must do each day that are “all-important” to the kids we serve. Prioritizing what is important--and eliminating what is not--is another way we Teach, Learn, and Lead with Passion!