I bet you and your teachers have a lot of big ideas. Educators are creative people and problem solvers. I don’t know about you but I find new ideas and big visions to be exhilarating.
However, they can quickly become overwhelming when we start trying to figure out how to put it into action. There are so many tiny details to consider, so many potential obstacles. Often, there is a lot that we just don’t know at all.
Sometimes overwhelm leads us to abandon our goals. Sometimes they just fade from view as we roll through the nitty gritty of daily operations at our schools. It can be awfully hard to see the forest when we are standing amongst the trees.
Moving from ideas to action and sustaining that action over a semester requires you to have a strategy. Let me help you map it out.
Step 1: Develop Your Vision
Your vision is the north star that guides you through the tumultuous seas of day-to-day school operations. Having a “WHAT” simply isn’t enough, you need a “WHY!”
Take some time to identify what you really want to do (big picture) to lead your school into the future and grow personally and professionally. How do you want your friends, family, and hobbies to fit into this vision?
What big ideas are going to lead you towards your vision? As you set goals and choose how you will use your work day, filter your choices through this vision. You will know what really needs done and what can wait.
Step 2: Reflect on Your Leadership
I’m not certain of much, but I am certain of this: it is impossible to grow as a person without actively reflecting first. Our past thoughts, actions, and beliefs are the best predictors of our future thoughts, actions, and beliefs. If you want to change them, you have to stare them down.
Yes, I know this doesn’t feel like a step that will help you make your big idea happen, but it will. Barreling ahead with a new idea when there are deeper issues to address first is a great way to ensure that your idea won’t launch.
Dig in, reflect, and get very honest about your strengths and limitations. Consider your most likely obstacles and how you might navigate them. Look for people who can help you fill in your gaps and bring strength where you need it.
Step 3: Map Out Your Goals
The only way to know if a big idea will work is to list out everything that needs to happen and get it into working order.
- Take each goal, write down everything you can think of related to this goal on an index card. Only one sentence or phrase per card. Don’t leave anything out, nothing is too random or small.
- Sort all of the cards into sensible categories such as: marketing, parent communication, teacher jobs, administrative jobs, things to purchase.
- Delegate specific responsibilities to specific people with specific deadlines. Do this for yourself as well.
- Break out your duties and plot out the order in which they need to happen.
- Estimate how much time each one will take and look at how much time you actually have available to work on this idea. Are your expectations realistic?
- Set goals for each week leading up to the date you want your idea to be complete. Work backwards from your desired end date and give yourself weekly tasks to get there.
Once you have a good picture of all the moving pieces for your project, you are ready to make a weekly plan!
Step 4: Weekly Reflection & Planning
It is easy for a big idea with a far off deadline to get set aside and ignored. That’s a strategy for failure. When you engage in a practice of reflecting weekly on what you accomplished to move towards your goals, you hold yourself accountable in real time.
Weekly planning is the process of taking all of those weekly goals you set in step three and weaving them into your daily work. You have existing commitments and daily duties that are important. With a to-do list that is categorized based on the “big buckets” you carry in your job, you can be more effective. The process of weekly planning will help you strategically move from daily operations, to high level visionary achievements.
What do you think of this process? Does it sound like something you might want to try out this semester? It could be just the thing you need to start the school year with a bang!
This summer I have been laboring over a tool to help you build a visionary plan that weaves seamlessly with your daily work. It is called the Visionary Leadership Planner and it is available starting this week!
The visionary leadership planner is 40 pages of beautifully designed prompts that lead you through the steps listed in this blog post. I created it especially for school leaders like you. The layout is designed so that you can plan on a semester by semester basis. Let’s be real, your actual “year” is August-July because you work in education.
There are two ways that you can get your hands on this planner:
Join the Bee Line Resources Community: Your investment of $47 gets you lifetime access to the community. This membership includes the Visionary Leadership Planner, Digital Strategy Boot Camp, How to Appeal for a Licensing Waiver, and Emergency Planning for Schools. Every year, I will add more resources and the library will grow.
Sign Up for 1:1 Coaching with Me: Let’s spend the fall semester focused on your big goals. We can shift you from surviving the day to thriving in your role. There is so much for you to do and I will be here for you with monthly coaching calls and ongoing email support throughout the fall semester. Not only do you get the support and accountability you need, you also get access to the Bee Line Resources Community as a VIP!