Category: Reflections

How I Am Making Time for Deep Work

How I Am Making Time for Deep Work

deepworkplaneride

This past summer I spent a lot of time thinking about the concept of Deep Work. I realized that a lot of my time last year was spent doing what Cal Newport defines as shallow work (tasks that almost anyone, with a minimum of training, could accomplish). I would spend hours working on tasks that really were not helping me meet my goals. After reading Newport’s book last spring I decided that I needed to be proactive about finding time to engage in deep work. The beginning of a new school year seemed like a great time to find this space. Below are four steps that I took to make more time for Deep Work.

Monday = Work Day

Monday’s at my school are shortened days. Teachers only teach for thirty or forty-five minute blocks which does not give me enough time to do a proper observation or meet with them. I decided that I would take advantage of this time by spending most of my day in my office working on the tasks that normally ate up my time. By batching a majority of my shallow work tasks into one day I am hoping to have more free time during the week to meet with teachers, visit classrooms, or create content for my teachers.

I pruned as many meetings as I could.

Instead of meeting with my teachers once a week I now meet with them every other week. This will open up a lot of time in my daily schedule. I have also encouraged other people that I had standing meetings set up with to think about how else we could communicate besides a face to face meeting. Some people are loving the idea of less meetings and some are scared that less meetings will lead to decreased communication. Time will tell about communication but what I do know so far is that my deep work time has increased and my availability for teachers has increased.

I set aside time for creating, thinking, and developing.

My schedule this year includes two hours a week for creation time. During these two hours I plan on focusing on the numerous ideas that I have written down in my notebook. I have set aside thirty minutes every other week that will be dedicated to thinking about the future. My goal with this time is to create a vision of where I would like to see my teachers go. Finally I have set aside 20 minutes a day to develop my skill set. I preach to my teachers and students that they need to be life long learners so I need to model that by improving my own skill set.

I increased my availability for classroom observations and demo lessons.

In the past meetings and busy work has kept me from going into my teacher’s classrooms and observing. This year I am going to try something different and have my teachers “book” their observations. My goal is to give them as much autonomy as possible when it comes to observations. I want the observation to be something that’s helpful to them not just something that I get to check off my daily list. I am also encouraging my teachers to book demo lessons so I can model strategies for them. In the past I have done demo lessons on the spot. While that has been helpful, I think that it would be more beneficial for the teachers to see a full thought out lesson instead of my improvised lesson.

While I don’t think I will ever create a perfect system I do think that these three steps will help me get closer to my goal of doing the important deep work that will make a positive impact in my student and teachers’ lives.

What to Do When People Leave

What to Do When People Leave

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about employee turnover. I  lost two of my teachers over the summer who I built both a professional and personal relationship with. While on a professional level it kills me to see them go, on a personal level I’m excited for both of them to move on and start their new adventures.

As educators we all hope that one day our students will move on from our school and start the next chapter of their lives. We know that they will take the knowledge and skills that we have taught them to do great things and have a positive impact on the world.

What if we applied this thinking to your employees? No one stays in one job forever. People will leave at some point. They may get a better job offer, they may want to try something new, or they may have to make sacrifices for their families.

What if instead of being mad or disappointed when people leave we celebrate them moving on to the next chapter of their life? What if we take pride in knowing that the knowledge and skills we taught out employees will now be taken to a new school site where our employee can flourish and influence a whole new group of people? What if people left a job feeling that we really care about them as individuals and want the best for them?

Trust and Leadership

Trust and Leadership

If you hire someone to do a job for you, you are telling them that you trust them. You trust them to get the work done, you trust them to do a good job, and you trust them to make the best decisions possible.

Yet in schools there seems to be a breakdown in trust between administration and teachers. When admin does not trust the teachers they have hired, teachers don’t feel like they are in charge of their own careers. Building this trust and having teachers feel that they are in charge of their own career is important because if you don’t, teachers will micromanage themselves and end up going to you for every single decision they make or worse they will not do anything out of fear of failing. This leads to teachers not being empowered to be leaders within your organization which ultimately causes negative feelings for both the employee and leader.

As a leader it can be hard to let go and trust your employees. What if they mess up? What if they don’t do things to my liking? Failure and misalignment will happen. It’s inevitable. When it does happen it’s important to note chastise someone for their actions. Chastising someone for their actions will make them feel like you don’t trust them and once that trust is lost, it is very hard to work together.

I would suggest that when these failures and misalignments happen that you should take an empathetic approach and learn about why they made their choice. Doing this will not only help keep a relationship between you and the team you lead, it will also help you better understand where your team is coming form and what areas of improvement you need to focus on. By identifying these areas of improvement I believe that you can continue to build a trusting relationship with the team you lead which ultimately will lead to progress towards meeting your final goals.

 

Trust and Leadership