While I have no scientific data to support my claim, I think that I have received the average amount of “fatherly advice” from my Dad in my lifetime. He’s taught me a number of critical skills, such as how to drive, how to tie a tie, the importance of a daily newspaper and the proper way to shake hands. All of his advice is supported by a central point that I always associate with my Dad, “just be patient.” When he taught me how to do something, advised me on a decision, or corrected me, he managed to work in the line “just be patient” somewhere.
In today’s world, patience is a tough skill to practice. However, patience is critical to success. As we start a new school year, each of us is returning to our classrooms and offices brimming with bold new ideas. So often, these goals are not achieved and we find ourselves saying in June “I wanted to….”
The reason we fail so often to meet our bold vision for the new school year is a loss of our patience. Instead of a small, manageable view of our time and work, we focus on too big a picture.
Here’s an example. A school administrator returns to school saying “this is the year I get in more classrooms and give more feedback to teachers.” Bold claims such as “Wednesday is my classroom day” are thrown around, and for the first few weeks, the goal is acheived. Then one Wednesday a crisis arises, and a meeting is scheduled for the next, and before long, June arrives and that same administrator is saying “I wanted to get in more classrooms, but…”
Taking a more patient viewpoint, that administrator would be further ahead to sit down every Monday and schedule two, one hour blocks for classroom visits, and focus on simply meeting that small weekly goal. Assuming 4 classroom visits with feedback per hour, that’s 8 visits a week. Over a school year, that’s 320 classroom visits.
40 really good weeks with small actions toward your goals makes for an excellent school year. Set a bold vision for yourself, then create a series of small steps that you can accomplish weekly and stick to it. Instead of making it a great school year quickly, “just be patient” and take a long term view, you will be happy with the results. My Dad would also tell you that by taking time and “just being patient,” you will arrive at your destination safer, tie a better knot, be more informed, and show people you value them.