This week was a week off the road and home. It was a time for me to do one of my “not so favorite things”, cleaning. As much as I know how important it is to keep a clean house it isn’t how I want to spend my time. As I was scrubbing and sorting I realized that this isn’t that much different from the work that I do on the road, school improvement. You see, continuous improvement of schools requires a constant eye on “sorting and doing” and school leaders are constantly taking care of this kind of business.
As most of the principals who I work with would tell you, it sure isn’t their favorite thing to do. You see, keeping things well sorted, clean and organized requires a serious commitment to staying focused. It means not letting things pile up and knowing when things need to be removed, discarded, given away or, at least, wiped clean. In schools, this is about being critically aware of the distractors that need to be ignored. It can also be about stopping the things that you are doing that are not providing an impact and actually getting rid of these ideas, practices or habits. You see, “first practice” doesn’t necessarily add up to “best practice” and sometimes, it means eliminating in order to really bring your house in order.
Sometimes, “cleaning” resembles a chance to start over. Sitting down to a nice clean desk or preparing a meal in a kitchen that sparkles and everything is where it should be. Or, it might mean that we replace worn out clothes or objects or make sure that the car is serviced to be ready for a road trip. In all of these examples, time is taken to look after the details and at the same time, see the big picture of what environment we wish to create.
Clutter, disorganization or a lack of clarity can create negative energy. Can you work this way? I am sure many of you can and will say that this is how you work best. I get that as I have been known to model this rather than what I am writing about! I do believe that schools on a continuous improvement cycle are being led by someone who takes the time to stay organized, remove distactors and understands the need for a clean slate now and then.
As we head in to the busy holiday season and the last few weeks of school prior to the Christmas break, it seems like a great time to consider what needs to be “cleaned up”. Is it time to remove, eliminate and discard what is not working? Should you reflect on your current reality? Is there a need to better understand what might be distracting you versus what your priorities truly are? Is the right work the work that takes your time? Or, is it time to throw away a fixed mindset and ensure that you start 2019 with positive energy and a growth mindset?
Have a great week and, once again, thank you for reading my weekly blog intended on improving schools. Keep it clean and see you next Saturday!