Think of all the discussions, decisions, work, and meetings and that take up “free” time at school, those precious prep periods and colleague collaboration windows that you have managed to carve out of the busy school day. Imagine those times as forming a cube. That cube is packed full, right? You are not wasting any of that time (hopefully), so the cube is full.
Look ahead to next year. Many of the things that took up space in the cube should no longer be in the cube. You and your team should not have the same discussions every day, month or year. While we absolutely should revisit some things periodically, we sure as heck should not revisit every thing. So we just freed up room in the cube. Some of the things that were new this year should become routine next year.
Now the question is: what are we going to do with that free space in the cube? What are we going to do with the resources (time, brain power, collegial interactions) that space represents?
Many of you reading this blog are interested in re-imagining and re-designing the learning experience, and that is taking up a LOT of space in the cube. But going forward, as you adopt new practices and do not have to reinvent the entire wheel each year, you are going to have space in your cube.
Reserve a chunk of that space, those resources, for building the long-term sustainable practices of a successfully innovating organization. Spend time on:
- Team building and team maintenance.
- Team norms.
- Ensuring that your group continues to understand and align to your shared North Star (if you don’t have one, how do you know where you are headed?).
- Simple rules that improve distributed leadership, individual accountability, and ownership of innovation.
- What it means to be a leader in a school, and leadership training for broader groups.
And for goodness sake, figure out how to carve out five minutes a day for everyone in the school to take a deep breath; to stop and be peaceful together; to maybe share some group hugs, physical or mental; to celebrate the amazing things your students are doing because you are there for them. The best teachers I know may also be the most frantic at times, because they know we can always do more, which is true. But if there is not room in that cube for you to feel wonderful at least once a day about what you are doing, YOU are not sustainable