Prioritising your workload

I recently read a short article in the January ASCD “education update” by Elena Hegland, an English teacher in New York, on the topic of prioritising work. It got me thinking about principal’s priorities.

Elena lists her top 5 priorities as

  • Student well being (“taking care of kids comes first”)
  • Lesson planning (this is a must for classroom management and student engagement)
  • Parent contact (within 24 hrs if possible)
  • Administration contact (often about the first 3 so if they are “fixed” you are well ahead)
  • Grading (this was more about formative assessment and she felt that if you set dates and timelines it’s more achievable and a must for point 2 anyway).

My only comment to the list is that I would clump assessment and planning together at 2 as often its 1 or 2 that parents call about anyway.

For principal’s I would suggest that they share and same number 1 and 2 – student well being and engagement, classroom management and academic success are the essentials. Then it becomes interesting for me. Depending upon the situation or the need I would usually have teacher contact next. We can often informally assess the first two when we wander in and around classrooms (take wandering as both focused e.g observations using structures like learning walks or coaching and also informal times during at the start of a day).

Then parents who I often apply a 2 day rule too unless it’s an urgent safety issue. I like to be informed prior to the meeting about the topic or issue so that I can be prepared and Both hear and lead a discussion toward a clear resolution and understanding.

Yet when the administration calls a principal they usually get first priority – dropped everyone and attend – and this has me wondering then about our first priorities. Have I got this wrong?

I’d be interested in some comments on this one?