One of the things that I’ve learned through the years of supporting leaders in their quest to improve the quality of their instructional leadership is this: without focus, we have nothing.

Somewhere along the line in education, we learned that if we do more, learn more, expect more, read more and assign more, more will get done.  Well, I have news for you: we are as confused as ever about exactly what it is that we are trying to accomplish!  As I work with teachers and ask them what their principal’s instructional goal is, they look at me with blank stares!

What their stares (and conversations!) are telling me is this: we are focusing on so much at one time that I cannot possibly name ONE THING that we’re working on because we seem to be working on EVERYTHING!

Well – we know that working on everything doesn’t allow us to measure what’s working and what isn’t.  Lack of clarity/too many goals is a breeding ground for “we do it this way because it’s the way we’ve always done it” syndrome.  And, well, we know where THAT leads us!

So, I encourage you to consider this list as you pare down your instructional focus.  Yes, the old saying “less is more” is true – in fact “less is measurable” is even truer.

  • What are you willing to “go big” on?
  • What will you have to do to “go big” on that thing?
  • How does this one thing relate to the quality of instruction?
  • What skills do you currently have to carry out the essentials?
  • What is the common task that underpins each of your required plans?  Is this your “go big” item?
  • What tasks/activities/projects do you need to leave behind in order to get focused?
  • Who are the folks in your school who can help you figure out what to “go big” on and vet your ideas?