Apr 09

Are Too Many Initiatives Too Much?

In a recent April 8th NASSP blog, Mel Riddle proposed steps to take for schools having long agendas with plans for success. He cited an article in a recent issue of Ed Leadership (April 3, 2013) as the impetus for his remarks.

The article, “School Leaders: Make Sure Your Teachers Don’t Lose Heart” by Lori Barnoski, a retired English teacher, (http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/04/03/27barnoski.h32.html ) reflects upon her levels of frustration regarding the numerous programs and activities placed upon her and a fellow colleague while high school teachers. Her colleague, still an active classroom teacher, shared with Ms Barnoski a list of 18 initiatives being implemented in her school during the year. Both the author and her colleague are critical of the “overload” of programs/activities that can and do get in the way of basic teaching goals: connecting with students and helping them understand and learn the content. She completes the article with six suggestions to help principals assist teachers with teaching.

Mel Riddle, in his NASSP blog, concurs with Ms Barnoski and adds a slight twist to the title of the origional article. Mel’s blog title “Don’t Let Your Teachers Lose Heart – The Activity Syndrome Revisted” which refers to a 1990’s education practice of some school divisions/principals that the more activities designed for learning, the greater the success.  Maybe, but not always necessarily so.

Mel revamped the action steps proposed by Ms Barnoski by reducing it to a simple process:

1. Meet with your teacher leaders.

2. List all the initiatives being implemented in your school(old and new).

3. Categorize them into “must do,” “need to do,” and “nice to do” initiatives.

4. Limit your “must do” initiatives to 3 but not more than 5.

5. Remove initiatives from your list.

6. Make sure that the “must do” items get done before you move on to “need” and “nice” items.

7. Do not take on any new initiatives without talking with your teachers first.

If you would like to read all of Mel’s blog you may access it: http://nasspblogs.org/principaldifference1/2013/04/school-leaders-dont-let-your-teachers-lose-heart-the-activity-syndrome-revisited/