You’ll recall back in February I articulated the five main reasons change might not happen: No Vision, No Skills, No Incentive, No Resources, No Plan.
This month I want to focus on resourcing. Let’s assume that your school has managed to avoid some of the major pitfalls; the first of which is ensuring that change is not merely happening for the sake of change but rather for the benefit of the community.
From there, your school has articulated a well defined and targeted vision and you have committed and highly capable staff, for whom the incentive to change is largely intrinsic rather than feeling the need to be convinced with “rewards”, but resourcing – or lack thereof – can bring everything to a screeching halt.
For the sake of this column I’ll reduce resources to three main categories.
Resources of physical space, money and time.
Physical space is at a premium, particularly in metropolitan schools, but in general it is a constraint on every school.
As the population increases, more schools must be built in order to accommodate the growing numbers of students.
However, as it stands – in the public system at least – we are witnessing over-crowding in many capital city schools as state governments struggle to cope.
Money is a constant issue in education. How your school uses its funds for programs is of utmost importance, and this is one reason why we’ve seen initiatives like the Evidence for Learning’s Teacher Toolkit which attempts to identify which intervention provides the biggest impact compared with the costs of implementing it.
Assuming that such a toolkit is used carefully within a larger approach to helping shape decisions within a school, then it certainly has its place.
That said, if decisions or conversations are overly influenced by these toolkits, they can become quite reductive, and – occasionally – you might start to see a negative impact if they conflict with the vision, skills or incentive of your staff.
Time is another major issue in schools. It appears that teachers are continually being asked to do more with less space, money and time.
Yet it is this resource that school leaders have the capacity to influence most.
We can’t create more time, but we can influence how that time is being used. As leaders, we must be mindful of what we are asking our team to do and why.
Is it busy work? Is it essential? Who is the work for? Is it about compliance or accountability?
Is it on top of everything else we’re asking them to do?
This is an issue in every workplace, not just schools, and if I can give you one tip, consider this in your next meeting/assembly/event: “Right here, right now. Does everyone need to be here?”
Michael Porter was one of the founders of the consulting firm The Monitor Group which is now part of Deloitte, and he says, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”