Initiatives are like GoogleDocs

For the past few years, we have been ending the school year with an Administrative retreat. We review our strategic plan, review the year and set initiatives for next year. This year, our Head of School had us brainstorm short-term, medium-term and long-term initiatives for the school. Short-term initiatives were ones that could be solved in the 5 hours of our retreat, medium-term were initiatives that needed to be further investigated, but could be implemented this summer, and long-term were major school initiatives that might take more than a year to tackle. We wrote them down with a good old- fashioned marker on 3 different flip charts.

Some of our short-term initiatives included things like:

  • examining the format of graduation
  • amending our dress code to reflect some of the latest styles
  • removing the ban on the use of mobile devices in the school buildings (YAY for this one! The policy is being amended!!!!)
  • relocation some of our study halls out of the library so that students can actually begin to use it AS a library (YAY for this one too!)

(…to name a few)

Some of our medium-term initiatives included:

  • revamping new student orientation
  • discussion of ways to make our first day of school more meaningful and memorable for students
  • ways we can improve our current advisor system
  • beginning the revision of our faculty assessment/ professional growth program
  • examining  student awards/ prizes. NOTE: I publicly thank @jonathanemartin for this. I shared his post re: Awards at St. Gregory: Changes we are making to recognize all of our students earlier this year. I truly believe it was the catalyst to this amazing conversation.

Some of our long-term initiatives included:

  • revamping our daily school schedule
  • implementing an improved assessment/ professional growth program to include the entire community
  • full curricular review for vertical and horizontal continuity using our curriculum maps

We debated these topics, brainstormed some solutions and put together a list of things to do this summer and in the year to come. As we headed to a very nice luncheon, I felt great! Many of the initiatives I wrote on the charts were moving forward.

Later that evening, I put some finishing touches on the GoogleDoc of the meeting notes. While we made a lot of headway on our short-term initiatives, the medium-term initiative list seemed long. And while I knew we had to work on these things this summer, WHO was going to keep them moving? Our Head of School was certainly in agreement with the direction we were going, the big ideas, but who were the “do-ers”?

The bottom line is, in order for any of these things to get done, someone needs to OWN them–just like a GoogleDoc. And just like a GoogleDoc, collaboration is possible, and necessary, with most of the initiatives in the list. The “owner” might be the person who wrote the initiative on the paper, or not, but the bottom line is, unless someone takes ownership of it, moving the initiative forward is virtually impossible.

Who is going to investigate new student orientation? Who is going to call the meetings re: assessment? Who will get the necessary people together to plan the first day of school activities? Someone needs to do it to keep these great ideas from fizzling out. If not, we will still be talking about the same things next summer at our annual retreat.

I come to this conclusion after reflecting on some stalled initiatives over the past few years. Why did they stall? Most times, because they lacked ownership by someone. Just like a GoogleDoc, you can’t collaborate on an initiative unless someone owns it…. then shares!


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