Inside the Trenches of the Principal: Week 18

We did an interesting exercise in our new principal meeting this week. It’s an activity credited to President Eisenhower centered around Urgency and Importance. I’ve seen this activity before, but not since becoming a principal. Here is a version of the matrix below:

Anyhow, I found this exercise valuable in thinking about the hundreds of tasks that are presented each day and how I view their importance and or urgency. The next day, I had a meeting with my five beginning teachers before school, as I do each month. I decided to present this same activity to them, as they are in some ways in the same boat as me in a new role. We discussed how oftentimes dissension arises in matters when two parties do not see the same task with the same importance or urgency.

For example, when a parent calls upset about a grade on their child’s test, this may not be “important” on the matrix, but that parent sees it as important and urgent. If you treat it otherwise, you come off as uncaring. Similarly, when a teacher calls a parent asking them to help their child with their homework because it’s never turned in, to the teacher that might be important and urgent, but to a parent who might be struggling with just keeping the lights on in the house, it’s probably not important or urgent.

I definitely reflected a lot on how I view my days with this activity and personally, I think the toughest thing I still face (as I always have) is the “delegate” box, where it’s something urgent, but possibly not as important. These are deemed tasks that I can have someone help with, but I usually just try to do it myself. I was joking around with my PE teacher on Friday that the closet in the gym that was cluttered was all cleaned up finally. I heard that one of our Watch DOG dads took care of it for him. As I was messing around with him about it, he said I’m a good delegator. It was true, he knew that was a task that was urgent, but not necessarily important to him, so he was able to find a way to get it done by utilizing a resource we have in our school now. It was a really “a-ha” moment for me.

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