It’s the start of another term or half term and there seems so much to do. As Stephen Covey’s famous quote goes, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” In an increasingly frenetic world and the busyness of the school day it is too easy to lose focus.
The #5MinMainThingPlan has been devised to help you keep your key priorities in mind and create a simple plan to make sure the main things get done. Pulling together the key development or improvement plan priorities, alongside the routine issues and tasks and keeping on top of more maintenance style issues is all part of the job. The #5MinMainThingPlan pulls it all together onto one page.
Your development or improvement plan should contain the key things that you intend to work on during the academic year. These are likely to be big issues that will require significant time for you and/or your team to discuss and formulate plans. There are likely to be some decisions to be made and professional development needs to be met if a smooth implementation is to ensue. Due to the time intensive nature of development plans you need to keep the number of objectives in your plan to a minimum.
Routine activities can be found in the school’s calendar. Make a note here of any that are likely to require significant time to prepare, complete or follow up. Avoid listing everything that is in the school calendar, you just want the time consuming ones which will impact on your capacity to get other jobs done. For example, if an assessment data is due there will be time required to prepare examination or tests prior to the assessment cycle and follow up time to analyse results and put in place any interventions afterwards.
In the section on maintenance you should record the revision of schemes of learning, policies, departmental handbooks and other similar activities that are required in schools.
This first part of the #5MinMainThingPlan is to pull together the improvements, priorities and activities that are scheduled to be completed this term or half term. At this point take a step back and consider whether you have so many priorities you are setting yourself up to fail. Doing less better is preferable to starting hundreds of jobs and failing to complete them or worse still making yourself ill. If you need to reduce down the number of priorities, so only the most important remain and will be done well, this is a good time to do so.
It could be argued that every meeting is key. When you add up the total time for everyone in a meeting it soon becomes apparent how precious meeting time is. There’s no time to waste. Identify the dates for your key meetings for the term or half term ahead and begin to assign the main agenda items using the development plan priorities, routine activities and maintenance issues you have previously identified. It’s possible to set up the main agenda items for the whole term or even year with a bit of forward planning. Make sure you’ve given the main things plenty of time and that you have the thinking, planning & implementation properly sequenced.
Month by Month Planning
The final thing is to schedule the main things into your monthly planners. The first thing is to transfer across the meetings. In the example below we’ve used a simple numbering system to put the meetings on the appropriate dates. Check your own diary and put a big cross through any dates where you have a full teaching day or back to back meetings and something in the evening. On these days you are not going to get anything else done and it’s no good pretending otherwise.
Think about the preparation you want to do prior to a meeting and make sure you get any preparation colleagues need to do out to them in good time. Once you are into a good rhythm you will develop positive habits like getting agendas and papers out a week in advance and follow up actions (names against each one and deadlines) within 48 hours. Add in other key tasks
Once you’ve got your plan put it on the wall and stick to it. Don’t allow less important distractions or other people’s lack of organisation stop you keeping the main things the main thing.
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Other #5MinPlans co-authored with @TeacherToolkit are available here: