Making the Easy Look Difficult

Seems like most educators these days are talking about their full plates, busy school lives, and being asked to do more with less?

Educational Leaders have a history of complicated policies, initiatives, and procedures – just make a list of the educational acronyms you know or the number of initiatives your school has tackled.  For years schools have measured the quality of their School Improvement Plans by the thickness of the binder that is required to contain all of the papers.  We have unfortunately equated “doing better” with “doing more” and are now suffering from bloat – in our curriculum, in our initiatives, in our committees, and across our schools.  Educators are busier than ever before and in many cases are struggling to see the fruits of our labor.

I recently heard a student remark about her generation as being the “ooohh shiny” generation – often distracted by the latest and greatest. Educational leaders struggle with this too; we are often quick to add the next best initiative to the crowded educational plate.

When will we decide to focus our energy and resources on becoming really good at a couple of key areas of education?

I was fortunate to have heard a presentation by Michael Fullan in October of this past year.  As a well-known and highly regarded leader and innovator in Educational Leadership, what he had to say was insightful.  He talked about moving away from “alignment” of initiatives and moving toward the idea of “coherence building” within our schools.  As someone who continually strives to align school initiatives, this shift was interesting for me.

Coherence – logical or natural connection or consistency

So Fullan was saying that our responsibility as educational leaders is to build logical connections and consistency?  Making that which is complicated, simple?

Alignment of initiatives does not inherently simplify all that educators do in schools – it simply explains (defends) why we are doing it all.  We need to move away from simply showing alignment between all of the initiatives that are taking place in our schools.  It is incumbent upon us to make the difficult look easy.

How about you?

  • Do you and your colleagues take the “more is better” approach?
  • Are many adults in your schools feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and frustrated?
  • How can you bring simplicity to your leadership?

One final thought…

You’ve heard the adage about eating an elephant one small piece at a time.  The charge to educate all students often feels like an overwhelming responsibility – just like that eating that elephant.  As leaders we have the responsibility to take that which is complex, overwhelming, insurmountable…and make it simple.  We may be required to say no to the next “shiny” initiative that comes our way.  It is possible that we will need to discontinue certain practices in our schools.  But it will certainly require us to be courageous in our leadership.

Commit to building coherence…it will make a difference.

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