We all need this refresher to help us see ourselves a little more clearly. In this, his second book, Charles Bonnici provides such a manual. Throughout my career in education I have benefited from the wisdom and strategies succinctly presented here. As his student teacher, teacher in his department, and assistant principal in his school, I had the opportunity to observe Bonnici as he developed and honed the guiding principles found in this book.
This book is short on theories and filled instead with the nuts and bolts of putting theories into practice illustrated with a wealth of anecdotes told with the wry sense of humor one needs to succeed as an administrator. Conway, clinical supervisor of student teachers, Pace University and St. John's University So often education texts are written through research rather than from practice.
Professor Bonnici's research was over twenty years of daily practice. There is no substitute for his first-hand knowledge and experience. Chris Casal, educator, New York City Deptartment of Education As a former student of Charles Bonnici, his lectures and wisdom have been instrumental to my development as a school leader. Schools are complex organizations that Mr. Bonnici helps you understand through careful analysis and thoughtful reflection. This book is a must read for every novice school leader!
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Ivan Tolentino, founding principal, The Active Learning Elementary School Succeeding as a school administrator requires patience, planning, and attention to an ever-growing list of priorities. In Remembering What's Important , Bonnici provides a comprehensive guide full of "survival strategies" for administrators, covering everything from teacher observations to working with custodial staff. This book should be required reading for new school leaders and is an excellent refresher for veterans. Bonnici has been an educator for forty years, serving as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal in the New York City public school system.
For the past ten years, as an adjunct professor at Pace University, he has developed and taught three educational leadership courses for students seeking their state certification. Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? Learn more about Amazon Prime. Priorities of School Leadership, Charles A.
Bonnici addresses several issues facing school leaders through strategies supported by real-life examples and anecdotes. The issues addressed include questions such as: What is the most urgent issue faced by a new school leader? How can this leader address the chaos of being both a teacher trainer and evaluator? What are the school leader's personal responsibilities for hiring, training, and retaining staff? How does the school leader create a positive learning ambience in a school?
How can this leader address the issues created by the physical plant of the building itself? How can a principal treat the difficult waters of the social and political context of the outside world that impacts on the school? How can a school leader insure that the management systems created within a school and the gains in student achievement accomplished are maintained and improved upon after he or she leaves the school?
Read more Read less. Review In Remembering What's Important: Be the first to review this item Amazon Best Sellers Rank: Page 1 of 1 Start Over Page 1 of 1. The video content is inappropriate. The video content is misleading. The ad is too long. The ad does not play. Each week, the coaches scour the Internet to find new, complex plays. This confuses the players, who never mastered the last set of plays. All the while, the coaches never take note of something boring but important: If they paid closer attention to what every coach knows, they would see that their linemen have never mastered the timeless fundamentals of effective blocking, such as footwork and body position.
These fundamentals make a literal "game-changing" difference. Therefore, the solution to this team's mediocre performance is quite simple: The results would be immediate and significant. Now imagine a hospital in which infection rates are high. This is a true story. Internal research reveals this to be the number one cause of illness and mortality at that location.
The Importance of Simplicity, Clarity, and Priority
All of the staff know the small handful of procedures that inhibit infection. According to one doctor, these "are no-brainers; they have been known and taught for years. In fact, the hospital like the football coaches seldom acquaints the staff with the ironclad case that these simple, well-known hygienic procedures are directly linked to life, death, and infection rates.
The solution to this hospital's problem is simple, not complex: In addition, the use of the checklist is monitored to ensure that all medical staff implement these practices consistently. In two years, the infection rate plummets from 11 percent to 0 percent. If we educators can't see ourselves in these two examples, I fear for us.
They clarify why so many schools fall short of their potential: We don't even share the evidence for why these deserve to be our highest priority. In subsequent chapters, we'll see detailed evidence for why these elements should be our highest priority—implemented before we adopt any other initiative. To ensure this, perhaps we should require a warning label like this one on all notices of upcoming workshops, trainings, conferences, or book studies:.
If you or your staff do not already implement a reasonably sound, common curriculum that 1 is taught with the use of the most essential, well-known elements of effective lessons, and 2 includes ample amounts of meaningful reading and writing, then please don't sign up for this training.
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It will have no effect on learning in your classroom or school. Master the above fundamental practices first. Then, if you still need this workshop and you might not , we look forward to seeing you. Have a nice day. Priority is itself a function of simplicity. It dictates that we select, clarify, and then focus on only a few things at a time: Education has never been so beholden to complexity, the enemy of clarity and priority.
Three books can help us to correct this.
Jim Collins's book Good to Great a is the best-selling organizational improvement book of the last generation. Collins found that "the essence of profound insight" into organizational improvement "is simplicity" p. That's why he reveres the hedgehog of Aesop's fables, who does one thing well rolls into a ball to protect itself , as opposed to the fox, who plans and plots as he "pursues many ends at the same time.
That's why they fail. In contrast, hedgehogs focus only on "what is essential and ignore the rest" p. On some level, the educational community knows "what is essential. In addition, it is especially difficult for us to "ignore the rest": An ironclad law is at work here: Collins had schools in mind when he wrote that "social-sector organizations" must overcome their addiction to doing too many things. To succeed, they must "attain piercing clarity" about what is truly most effective and "then exercise the relentless discipline to say, 'No thank you' to opportunities that fail the hedgehog test" p.
Simplicity, clarity, and priority are intimately linked.
For an organization to maintain a focus on its highest priorities, it must routinely clarify them so that everyone in the organization knows implicitly what to do and what not to do. If they aren't regularly clarified, practiced, and refined, they are always at the mercy of our natural forgetfulness, and a failure to protect them from the encroachment of new, but far less effective, practices or programs. The result is stagnation or decline. Worse still, leaders have a bias against "old ideas and simple prescriptions," even though these old, simple ideas are the key to better results p.
Many leaders would rather launch new initiatives because it excuses them from the harder work of ensuring that their highest, simplest priorities are implemented—that is, are "actually done" p. In contrast, the most successful leaders are those who know that "success depends largely on implementing what is already known" p.
They know that "simple prescriptions" conveyed with "clarity and simplicity" are the hallmarks of effective action and leadership p. At the successful companies profiled by Pfeffer and Sutton, the primary driver of improvement was "the implementation of simple knowledge" p. It is critical that schools learn that "best practice" is rarely new practice.
On the contrary, the most effective actions are "well-known practices, with the extra dimension that they [are] reinforced and carried out reliably" p. Are the most effective, evidence-based practices "reinforced and carried out reliably" in our schools? To ensure that they are, we must make continuous efforts to clarify, reinforce, and reward their mastery and implementation by teams and teachers.
He found that successful organizations carefully determine their focus and then make every effort to clarify and simplify those priorities. According to Buckingham, survey data reveal that employees crave clarity; they want to know precisely what they must do to be most effective—and not be distracted from that. Their highest priorities must be clarified incessantly. In his interviews with employees in multiple organizations, he found that "everywhere, the wish was the same: To protect the core, leaders must "sift through the clutter" in order to "apply disproportionate pressure in a few selected areas" Buckingham, , p.
This "lopsided focus" fuels people's productivity, creativity, and morale p. Leaders must be seen as clarifiers, focusers, "keepers of the core" who incessantly "cut through the clutter … to distinguish between what is merely important and what is imperative … those few things you must never forget" Buckingham, , p. And the core must be monitored obsessively: Let's now look at how these principles play out in some of the organizations Buckingham describes.
Their implications for schooling will be obvious. Carefully protected focus at Best Buy. Research revealed that the "core" for Best Buy's sales force was the ability to master and then confidently explain the different features of the products they sold. Since making this discovery, Best Buy reduced their product line by 50 percent so that salespeople could fully master their core inventory.
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To preserve the core, they try to discard an existing product every time they add a new one. This is the secret to the company's success Buckingham, , p. Apple Computer and one thing. Apple Computer was constantly invited to embark on new initiatives and partnerships. But Steve Jobs strenuously resisted heavy lobbying from those within and outside of the company and stayed true to one thing: The company's in-house research revealed that its simple core was safety: And they did—on every metric Buckingham, , pp. Borax officials knew that the key to protecting the core focus was communication.
Leaders constantly reminded, trained, and told stories to make sure that people understood the outsize importance of safety procedures. Every meeting began with an anecdote about how injuries were averted by employees. Leaders displayed and celebrated measurable benchmarks, such as the number of days without an accident, and progress toward monthly and annual accident-reduction goals. In schools, leaders should collect, share, and celebrate analogous data e. We should celebrate progress in these areas as we guide and advise teachers at faculty meetings.
And we should celebrate gains made each grading period on common assessments that themselves reflect the level of implementation of these three areas. What happens when an individual teacher or a whole school focuses on the most effective, high-priority practices?