Commitment versus Compliance

Struggle Street

When I first became a site administrator I was intimidated by our administrators meetings.  There were a few women principals but most of the administrators at the district level were men.  Mentoring and helping the newby was not part of the code book.  Telling you how it was done, was the norm.

At one meeting we were listening to a lecture on how to write our school plans.  I thought that a school plan was a great idea.  I thought that  having a plan would guide us and keep us on the straight and narrow path to achieving our goals.  Since I was the Assistant Principal at the time, my Principal thought it would be a good project for me!  At first, I was quite thrilled to create a vision and goals for our school.  Interestingly though, my first clue should have been that I had been a teacher at this school for several years and had never seen the “School Plan” or had any idea what was in it.

As the district administrator poured over the requirements that needed to be in the plan, I started to get the picture.  This was a document that was designed to comply with laws and regulations that were designed in Washington and the state capitol, not a process document that would be a road map  to greater student achievement.

One of the Principals seemed to sense my anxiety about being in charge of this document.  He leaned over to me and whispered,  “I always write ___(an expletive not suitable for this blog) in the middle of a sentence and I bury it the middle of the document just to see if anyone reads what I wrote.  No one has ever called me on it in the last 20 years.  Don’t sweat it”.

We are really good at churning out plans that comply with all the laws and regulations, but are they helping to improve student achievement?

As strategic planning and other forms of participatory processes have evolved in the last several years,   even plans that have to be compliant have a place for some collaboration.  Most vision statements reflect  rigorous actions to improve achievement for all students. I have also seen  more actions focused on Social Emotion Learning and developing character.

I do notice, however, that sometimes the plans are not the guiding roadmap for improving student achievement. Sometimes the plans sit on the shelf and don’t get implemented. When we are trying to put together plans, visions, and actions we need to remember that it is hard for people to be committed to someone elses goals.  It is also especially hard for people to be committed to someone elses strategies for accomplishing those goals.

We have  gotten better at engaging stakeholders. We still have much to learn. However, collaboration takes a lot of time but it pays off in the implementation.

I recently read a great book, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling.  You will find lots of great advice for how to get your goals  accomplished and actions implemented. This book might even help you define your goals for 2017-2018.


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