You have meetings to attend, speeches to give, and not enough moments in the day to possibly pack it in. Are you able to be engaged in every moment or do you have a constant undercurrent of anxiety that you’ll miss something important? If it’s the latter, we’ve got a recommendation for you. Document! Document what you’re doing as you’re in motion so that you (or someone else) can build the structure that will make next year easier. Already have those checklists? It’s time to review and revise.
When preparing to close out the academic year, a good checklist could be the difference between meeting every moment and leaving out an important step and having to write a mea culpa. In his book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, Atul Gawande argues that one of the most troubling impediments to impactful creative or strategic work is simple mistakes made in routine or repeated work.
Externalizing routine steps via a structured list allows individuals to act with intentionality and focus on the variables that require their attention. People in roles that require highly effective thinking (i.e. Academic Leaders) need to be able to focus their brain power on non-routine work and problem solving. Checklists can free up the mental space that allows them to do that.
All too often, Academic Leaders are in constant motion during this time of year, with much of the “what comes next” list only in their heads. This year, we charge you with documenting all those steps you take!
Academic leaders may find this book useful in designing systems that empower teachers to focus on curriculum development or a pedagogical initiative rather than individually devising duplicative systems (such as when a school does not mandate a unified learning management system (LMS). Independent school faculty fiercely embrace their independence. Leaders who can guide that independence in alignment with mission-based work will see the impact across the school.
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