I have written previous posts about how we collaborate, prioritise and ‘make and break’ decisions about school and organisational change. The decision-making process and how we seek different influences to inform it continue to fascinate me. There is no one answer or simple prescription that can be followed in these areas, and, consequently, one thing many schools struggle with is how to allocate the very scarce resources that they have. Each school has only a limited amount of ‘discretionary spend’ in financial terms or in the focus, time and attention of the staff. There are a lot of competing things we could focus on for our professional learning or spend our curriculum, property or staffing budgets on. The question is, how do we make sure we are getting the most positive outcomes possible?
When I was a principal, for example, much of the mail that came across my desk was offering deals on this product or that programme, and contained sometimes quite extravagant claims about the results that could be expected for our staff and students. You have to have a well-attuned filter at times. There are plenty of snake oil salesmen out there who will push hard for you to spend sometimes significant amounts of that discretionary spend on their products or services, when they may not align well with your articulated beliefs. So, how do we make the decision about which things are, in fact, the most important and influential levers for positive change in the outcomes for our students?