Teach & Serve No. 6 – “It’s in the Doing That Things Get Done”

Teach & Serve 

No. 6 * September 8, 2015


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It’s in the Doing That Things Get Done

We love our lists and our committees and our plans. Do we love them too much?

Confession: I am a maker of lists. When presented with a complex task which I know will eat up hours and the completion of which will take a significant amount of time, I tend to chart out potential steps and timelines, chunk together the major pieces, draw it all up on a spreadsheet or on a sticky note – there’s something gratifying about sketching little squares next to words knowing that I will check them off at some later date – and get to work.

There’s nothing at all wrong with this approach to our work as educators. Actually, this type of preparation is often necessary to balancing all that needs to be completed in our days, weeks and months.

From a boarder perspective the creation of committees and the composition of strategic plans are large scale approaches to making check lists. Addressing issues that are likely more complex than what we approach individually on a daily basis, these marco-structures also help move things forward in our schools. How do we work on curriculum revision? Form a committee. Where do we want to be in five years? In ten? Draft a strategic plan.

checklistOften, when I make a list or sit on a committee, I can find myself overwhelmed by the enormity of the subject of the list or the charge of the committee. What to do then? Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. Likewise, I can also get down deep into the minutia of a task, look at it from all angles of which I can conceive, break it into its most simple parts. Then, I can assign pieces to timelines, ask people to perform tasks, allocate resources and color in spaces on the calendar. Planning of this sort can be invaluable to our schools.

Until it isn’t.

Here’s the thing: I can spend hours in the planning, days in the design, weeks in the idea. Sometimes I forget it’s in the doing that things get done.

How much of my time to I spend on the planning – the measuring twice, cutting once approach – of my work? An awful lot. Is this a bad thing? No.

I am not advocating the abandonment of list making. My God, I would feel lost without my lists. Nor do I think that our schools should disband all committees (though I bet they could do without a few of them) and scrap all strategic plans. These are tools of the trade, these lists and committees and plans.

But they are not the trade.

How much of my time do I spend on the planning – the measuring five times, cutting… well, wait, let’s not cut until we make another plan approach – of my work? More than I should.

When the planning becomes the goal in-and-of-itself, when the committee exists in perpetuity with no spelled out task, when one strategic plan leads, inevitably, into the next, we need to step back and reassess our approach.

It’s in the doing that things get done.

Let’s be certain we’re doing.

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4 Comments

Filed under Education, Education Blog, Ignatian Education, Jesuit Education, Teacher, Teacher Blog, Teaching

4 responses to “Teach & Serve No. 6 – “It’s in the Doing That Things Get Done”

  1. Pingback: Teach & Serve No. 7 – “If You’re Not Research Based, You’re Shadow Boxing” | And There Came a Day...

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