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What Are Your 3 Big Rocks For 2020?

Whilst many have fallen into ‘survival mode’ to get through the final weeks of the 2019 school year, smart school leaders have already identified their THREE BIG ROCKS for 2020 and are setting up the new year to hit the ground running. What are your school’s THREE BIG ROCKS?

Too many schools have too many initiatives underway within their school. As a result, their effectiveness becomes diluted. By trying to do 25 things at once, they end up achieving very little. As a result, the staff and leadership team in many schools are suffering change fatigue and frustration. To have a greater impact, school leaders should identify three key priorities for the coming year and do them well.

By identifying NOW, what those three BIG rocks for 2020 are, we can strategically plan for the very important student free days at the beginning of the year. It is vital that school leaders present clear, focused, succinct and aligned messages about the priorities for the year ahead.

Perhaps using the concept of BIG ROCKS is NOT helpful. Many schools have MASSIVE, all-encompassing rocks eg Student Well-being, Academic Success and Staff Engagement. Whilst these are aspirational terms they cover a multitude of initiatives and can be too daunting. They lack focus. You can still end up with 25 initiatives UNDER these rocks. What is needed is a sharper focus on KEY initiatives that are actionable and achievable in 2020 and that will have an impact. For example, Respectful Relationships, a consistent approach to developing Writing and staff development on Differentiation.

The NSW government schools set their THREE Strategic Directions in their three year plans. I particularly like their format for unpacking how they are going to get traction and make progress in their priority areas. They utilize a format called Priority Planning. Each of their priorities is broken down into actionable steps for progressing to achieve a designated outcome by the end of the year. Thought is given to communicating a clear vision of what will be achieved at the end of the year, the professional development that needs to be provided in implementing the initiative, the resources that needed to be purchased, programs that need to be written, the support that will be needed and how momentum will be established.

Each of the actions that are required to achieve the desired outcome in that area eg PD, resource selection, program writing, classroom support etc, is then plotted onto a five week block on their annual plan. The annual plan is divided up into the four terms and each term is split into half terms (5 week blocks). The beauty of this layout is that each five week ‘block’ provides a small chunk of time that is likely to include a staff meeting and a PD opportunity. If we want to make progress on three key areas of focus in the year, we need to be explicit about the actions that are necessary to get traction.

PS Smart leaders plan to achieve their outcomes by the end of term 3. They recognise that the final term of the year is ALWAYS crazy busy with end of year events, transitions to next year and when staff are running on reserves. Planning change initiatives to be achieved in the first three terms allows some breathing space in term 4 and for inevitable over-runs.

The plan is often displayed in the staffroom. As the actions are completed, they are marked off using a highlighter. This has a number of benefits. Staff can see where various aspects fit together and what is coming eg staff PD. It is also powerful at this time of the year as we can look back at what we have achieved during the year and the program that has been made. This can be beneficial for morale. Often at this time of the year we have forgotten all of the work that we have done throughout the year. We will still feel tired and running on reserves but hopefully we will reflect and understand why.

You can download a template of the Priority Planning format by CLICKING HERE.

What are your THREE key priorities for 2020?