Program Overload And The Leader’s Role

More often than many of us admit, we find ourselves in a sea of new initiatives and programs. At times, these are launched in a piggyback style. While in isolation, it is simple to see how such efforts can have a positive impact on teaching and learning. Still, when they are rolled out in such a way that they begin to pile up on one another, the ability to execute each becomes flawed. Thus, the outcomes of such endeavors are equally flawed.

Instead of having a few programs executed well, we are left with a string of programs that are half-realized. Never do we fully see how they can change practice or impact student learning.

The result of initiative overload is often a frustrated staff that, as time goes on, becomes suspicious of anything new, and is reluctant to bring forth new ideas. In essence, they are stuck in a pattern of learned helplessness, accepting the charge that is placed upon them, with a mindset that “this too shall pass”.

In order for students to benefit from most practices, whether it be a prescribed program or a best practice, teachers must be well versed in the practice. They must be comfortable enough with such practices to be able to alter them to fully meet a student’s needs intuitively. With the cycle of flawed execution, teachers may never obtain a full grasp of a practice, leaving them ill-equipped to serve students in the best possible way.

As leaders, we know that there are multiple paths to a desired outcome. Therefore, we must ensure that we measure the effectiveness of existing programs and initiatives before we introduce the next. In this fashion, we are able to focus efforts towards what is working, and capitalize on those outcomes. For the things that are not working, we can ask Why?, and set a new course of action. Or, we can decide that it needs to be abandon. This is actually more positive than we first suspect because we can now free up capacity and porur those resources into what is working.

How do you help limit the amount of programs and initiatives in your school or district? Leave your comments and strategies below.