September 8, 2018

So You Want to be a School Admin...The 80/20 Rule...

Tim Ferriss (one of my favorite authors and podcaster), talks about this concept called Pareto's Principle. According to Brian Tracy, leadership blogger, Pareto's Principle was named after its founder, Vilfredo Pareto back in the late 19th century.

Simply put...

20% of your time (or resources, or money, etc) result in 80% of the outcome. So conversely that means 80% of what you do only results in 20% of the outcome. It works in sports, business, money etc. In case you want to see that in action, check out this article from Forbes.

Borrowed diagram from

Think about that in your everyday life and see if it applies. How many times do we spend 80% of our time on something that only has a 20% affect on our lives or workplace.

Both Ferriss and Tracy talk about looking at your to do lists. If you have 10 things on your list, chances are only 2 of them are really worthy of spending a large amount of time. Your daily routine can become more efficient by really focusing on those things that deserve the majority of your time.

As a school leader (especially when I was a principal) I found that a GREAT DEAL of my time was spent putting out fires, dealing with paperwork, sitting in meetings, etc. I can promise you that I was not always efficient. Just because I was busy, did not mean that what I was doing was effective or had the most impact for my school.

Sound familiar?

Many times we equate being busy with productivity but I bet if we examine ourselves using the Pareto Principle, we may realize that is not necessarily accurate.

So what do we do?

1. Keep a simple activity log just for one week just to see what you are actually doing. I am almost afraid to do this because I am sure I will be mad at myself when I see how much time I spend on email.

2. Prioritize your "to-do" lists. Keep the 80/20 rule in mind and really focus on those top few. That doesn't mean ignore everything else but make you spend time on what is going to have the biggest impact.

3. Recognize that you will NEVER get everything done. The list will always grow. In my experiences I have always received satisfaction from marking things off of my list. But, I found myself adding things to my list just so I could mark them off easily. I know, weird right?

4. Learn to say no to some things.  This is a hard one for me too. It is ok to say no. It is not rude, disrespectful or a sign you are not a team player. Sometimes you can get really bogged down in other people's priorities. Therefore your priorities suffer.

5. Avoid negativity like the plague. Negativity can easily slow down your progress. It can also creep in and become 80% of your day. Do you know people who have a negativity cloud around them 80% of the day, or more? Ugh....

Using the 80/20 rule can be beneficial to some, others it may drive them crazy. The key is, every leader has to determine what works for them.

Stay tuned for more tips for your journey to becoming a school administrator.


August 17, 2018

The New Gig...

I got a new gig.

I was not unhappy with my old gig. In fact, I will always be a part of my old gig and of course all of my people were extremely supportive when I left.

I had an opportunity, an opportunity to grow and be a part of something really cool. A new journey for me and a new journey for them as well.

This summer I started my new role as the Director of Instruction at Manchester City Schools in Manchester, Tennessee (Ever hear of Bonnaroo??). I am excited for me but I am also excited for MCS (not bragging, I promise), not because I am this great leader who knows colleagues can vouch for that for sure. Manchester City Schools is getting an exciting, energetic school leader who sees all of the great things happening at MCS as well as the huge potential that it has to offer.

So far, I am learning my role(s) and meeting as many people as possible. My plan is to visit ALL of the schools as often as possible. I get excited when I think about observing great teachers and seeing the positive things that are happening. Here are some of the cool things I have seen so far...

As my journey continues, here are the things I want to focus on.

1. Making sure I follow and share the vision of the superintendent of schools and the school system. This is extremely important to me. I know I will have ideas to share but I also need to respect the current culture and get to know the people and the stories first. There is a HUGE benefit in simply observing.

2. I need to be visible. I want the teachers, staff and kids to know who I am and feel that I am approachable. I want to learn names and visit classrooms. When I see kids, I want to them to recognize me instead of saying, "Who is that tall, bald guy?"

3. Helping to market Manchester City Schools is also important to me. Too often schools and school systems sit back and let other people tell their stories. Unfortunately those stories do not usually align with what we want told. So, we have to take control and be the chief storytellers of our district. I want to be a storyteller for Manchester City Schools. I want to help spread the positive and innovative things happening in our district.

Oh, by the way, you can follow #MCSUnited on any of our social media platforms. can follow me HERE.

4. I want to share as much as possible. Despite what my preschool teacher said (my preschool teacher was my mom), I really do like to share with others. When I see something innovative I share it. When I see something that can benefit kids, teachers or other admins, I share it. When I see something that grasps my attention (which is sometimes difficult) I share it in case it might grasp someone else's attention. So, I plan on sharing whether that is through blogging, social media or even face-to-face presentations.

As you might be able to tell, the new gig is going great! My transition could not have been smoother and I have been welcomed with open arms. Sure, I miss my Tullahoma City Schools folks, but it is always great to become part another community, especially this one.

What an opportunity!


By the way, if you want to start reading my series on personalized learning, click here.