Hello, and welcome to the School of Excellence blog. I’m Chanie Wilschanski, and I work with EC owners and directors who want to build a school of excellence.
We’re in the second month of the year, and I want to talk about how to set up your calendar to truly accomplish that one goal that you really want to get done this month.
My number one rule for setting goals is specificity. If we want to successfully track our outcomes, we need to get really specific as to what the problem is and what we want to see happen.
In today’s training, I’m going to walk through four goals from our director community, and break them down for success.
1. Laura wants to get rid of paperwork: “I want to get rid of the pile of paperwork that’s been on my desk since the fall.”
Paperwork is my all-time favourite! It’s not really a goal, it’s something that’s consistently coming into your life. What’s the key to success with things that consistently come into your life? We want to create a routine around it.
One of the biggest reasons directors don’t accomplish their goals is a lack of routines and habits that are aligned with where they’re headed.
Todd Herman, my mentor and creator of the 90 Day Year leadership program, talks about creating routines for every area of life you want to succeed in.
So how can we create a habit around paperwork?
Say you have four days a week where you’ll do paperwork (we’ll give you Friday off). We want you to do 10 minutes of paperwork every single day. We want it to be part of your routine.
Laura wants to do her paperwork in the morning, and make it part of her morning routine. So every day, before parents walk into the building, Laura will have completed 10 minutes of paperwork.
The key thing here is to set a timer. You only do 10 minutes of paperwork, and then it’s off your to do list. Even if you’re in the moment and you’re enjoying it – that timer goes off, and the paperwork is done for the day.
8am – 8:10am for four days a week, paperwork is part of your morning routine. And when it’s part of your routine, when you’re doing 10 minutes of paperwork every day, you won’t have any clutter left.
2. Shalon’s wants her teachers to be confident in the end-of-day system she has set up in her school.
Shalon’s teachers keep coming to her to check in on what they’re meant to be doing, even though there is a set system and routine in place.
How can we get the teachers to go from messaging and calling Shalon to check what they’re meant to be doing, to being confident and following the system without needing a lot of extra support?
The first thing is this – have you done something very visual and concrete for the teachers to tell them exactly what is supposed to happen? They need a visual roadmap they can go back to and check on so they don’t need to call Shalon.
When you create something visual, it’s a lot easier to hold someone accountable to it because you say hey, you’re Teacher A, right? Great, you need to be here.
So it isn’t really a confidence issue, it’s a competence issue – we haven’t spoken to the teachers in the way they understand.
It’s like teaching a pre-schooler in the way you would teach high school. But they don’t understand frontal teaching – you need to be using materials, visuals, auditory, kinaesthetic, and so on – all the different languages of children learning.
It’s the same thing with teachers – you want to give them information broken down in different ways.
Once we’ve created that visual guide and communicated it to them in that way, then we could talk about accountability and implementation.
3. Sabree wants her teachers to use more sensory materials in their day-to-day classes
A lot of directors want their teachers to start using more sensory materials in their classes. Sabree is one of my 1-1 clients, and we were working on this goal for her school.
Jim Rohn said, “Success is nothing more than a few disciplines practiced daily.”
OK? So you want your teachers to be more innovative – you want to give them a routine (or a “few disciplines to practice daily”) that will reflect that.
This strategy is from the Director’s Inner Circle, where all of this is broken down systematically as part of our training roadmap.
One of the things you can do to get your teachers to use more sensory materials in their day-to-day classes is The Mystery Box Challenge.
If you’ve ever watched Chopped, or Masterchef, or Hell’s Kitchen, you’ll know that one of the iconic challenges of a food show is the mystery box challenge. Participants are given a box of ingredients – they have no idea what’s inside, and then they have to create a Michelin-standard meal out of it.
When I saw that, I was like, that is GENIUS. Let’s bring it into early childhood!
So what you do is pick one area of competency you want to raise with your staff – in this instance, we’re looking at sensory materials. You will never get them to use more sensory materials by talking at them, unless you create a routine that reflects bringing them into the classroom.
Inside, you’ve got 12 different items, and your teachers know that Tuesday is Mystery Box Challenge day. So they have to pick an item out of the box that they need to use in the classroom that day.
Now here’s what happens: in the beginning, you put things in the box that are not scary – cotton balls, straws, maybe some slime, anything that’s sensory-related.
The beauty and the magic is going to happen in the follow-up. You want to go in and see how they’re using the sensory material, and take a picture of it. Then at the end of the week, send out an email (or put it in your secret Facebook group) and highlight all the amazing ideas people had.
Do that every week, and all of a sudden, your teachers are doing innovative things and taking risks in the classroom. Four weeks later, teachers who have not tried anything new in over a decade, just tried four new things!
Teachers get ownership by using an item in their own way, so it build morale and confidence with them as well.
4. Deb wants her staff meetings to stay on track.
Deb has a big staff meeting, and she wants to help teachers stay on task at the meeting with minimal disruptions, and keeping it under an hour long.
The meeting is set to cover going over goals, checking in on the curriculum, and reflecting on progress so far.
If we have too many different outcomes, we will end up struggling to stay on track. So Deb’s meeting is going to be difficult to keep under an hour and have it be an effective use of time because it’s got three different outcomes.
We want to be super clear on the specific outcome of each meeting, as that’s what helps us stay on track.
Deb is a member of the Director’s Inner Circle, so she has access to the Effective Meeting Blueprint, where I cover things like how to get teachers engaged and showing up on time, how to inspire your team, and how to translate meetings into action and accountability. Deb went and watched that training after this session, and it helped to clarify how to keep her meetings on track.
This blog post is taken from a live session I delivered in The DiscoverED Director’s Lounge on Facebook. Join us over on Facebook to watch my Live videos every Sunday!