Playing the Long Game

I realize that this blog post will represent a bit of a paradox in the context of education, but I feel that the message is particularly powerful.  In any leadership position there are times where the day to day grind can take a toll and you may lose focus of the bigger picture.  You become so consumed with focusing on the next item on your checklist that everything else on the periphery becomes blurry or non existent.  It is in these moments that it is so very crucial you take a step back and come up for air.  This blog post comes off the back of one of those moments for me and it was really some introspection that led to this point, and I want to share some thoughts on how “playing the long game” can have deep and profound implications for the educational system.

Whether it is the latest in educational technology, a new way to schedule classes within a school day, the latest policy release from local, state, or Federal government, education seems to be changing more and more rapidly each year.  For schools the amount of change has been something that each school has had to grapple with, and some have dealt with it more successfully than others.  Much of that success directly coincides with the ability to understand a couple things:

  1. The “why-”  Why are we all gathered in this school?  What is our primary purpose for working together.  In schools that notion can and should revolve around serving the needs of our students.  This is a bit of a tall order in the face of change as many professionals currently int he field grew up in a time when this amount of change was not the norm.  Now it is.  A compelling vision towards the service of our students is priority 1 and from that point forward, all decisions MUST map to that purpose.
  2. Invest in people-  Technology is ever-changing and that doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.  That being said investing your time and money in technology is important, but only when the capacity of the people using it is at scale.  Focusing all resources on the tools themselves does little but frustrate those who are trying to keep pace or stay on top of the latest trends.  The reality in all this is that good teaching is still good teaching, the only difference is that the tools have changed.  Teachers who put students first are still the best teachers today as they were many years ago.  Invest in people and your return will inevitably be exponential year after year.

Immediate returns can excite, but true engagement is much more than just the superficial oohs and ahhs provided by the latest toy.  What really pushes the needle is investing in the thing that makes the most difference and that is in the teaching and learning.  Playing the long game means investing time and resources in why and the people that drive growth.  This simple recipe takes time, but playing the long game pays bigger returns over the long run.

 

 

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