Seven Excuses That Don’t Matter—And One That Does

Vol. 13 No. 4

divhead eletter Vol14 No4 excuses

Successful educational programs require hard work and (occasionally) difficult changes. It can be daunting to keep and sustain the sort of drive needed to make them take hold and become permanent. But, that doesn’t mean you should allow excuses or circumstances to prevent you from trying new initiatives to improve your school. Here, then, are seven common excuses that shouldn’t stop you from starting difficult changes—along with the one reason you should halt any initiative before it gets off the ground.

  1. “I don’t know how.” Then learn, or find resources that can teach you how to do it. People look up information for basic knowledge so often now that “google” is now an official verb. Almost two-thirds of Americans search for some bit of information online every day. With such open resources available for information gathering and learning, there’s no reason why a lack of knowledge should prevent you from doing what needs to be done.
  2. “It’s traditional to do it this way,” or “We’ve always done it this way.” It’s traditional to travel by coach-and-buggy—or by walking. Avoiding progress simply because it’s never been done before is a fast way to become left in the dust. Of course, progress for progress’ sake should be avoided; new opportunities must be evaluated and weighed against the current standard. But don’t let the fear of trying something new and potentially risky keep you from trying at all.
  3. “That other school tried this, and it failed for them.” Other School is not your school, and your school should not be held to Other School’s standards. Simply because an initiative failed in one community doesn’t (necessarily) mean it will fail in yours. Get all the information on a program; don’t dismiss it out of hand.
  4. “There’s not enough time.” It’s not that there’s not enough time in the day to do the things you want to accomplish; it’s that you don’t prioritize this other thing over the constants in your life. If this new thing will help your school and students grow and prosper, then it’s worth shifting priorities, even a little. It may get done more slowly, but slow and steady progress is better than none at all.
  5. “We don’t have the money to do this.” Perhaps you don’t have the funds to pull off the ultimate form of what you want to do, but lack of money shouldn’t hold back your educational program. Instead of throwing up your hands and deciding you can’t do anything because you don’t have the money, think, “What can we do with the money we currently have to best reach our desired outcome right now?” With the financial support you have from the school’s overall budget, focus on your division’s immediate priorities, and then set solid goals to prevent a lack of funds from impeding your students’ progress.
  6. “The time isn’t right to try this now.” Starting new projects is a bit like becoming a parent: There’s never a “best time” for it to happen. If it’s not evaluations, it’s exam time, then it’s auditing, then it’s meetings… You get the picture. If you’re going to put off a project because the time isn’t right, then set a definitive date in the future when you will begin—and stick to that.
  7. “Our community doesn’t support this initiative.” Whether the school community we’re discussing here is parents or faculty members, don’t let reluctance become a roadblock. Are you sure that everyone feels this way, or is it just a vocal minority who’ve spoken against the idea? And if the community doesn’t embrace the suggested change, why not? These two questions—and others—can be answered through careful interviews and surveys. Once you have answers instead of anecdotes, you can move forward with confidence, clearly seeing what pitfalls lie ahead and what advantages you can press.

All of those excuses should be recognized as the delaying tactics that they are, and not be allowed to impede progress and projects that would help your students. That said, there is one excuse that should halt all plans in their tracks.

“It’s not mission-appropriate. This won’t help our students.”

Your school teaches its students according to its mission; that’s what parents are paying your school to do. All projects should be approached with your mission and your students in mind.

If whatever you’re trying to do doesn’t sync with your school’s mission or current vision, then it has no place being implemented at your school. If trying this program will divert resources from another initiative that is more mission-appropriate, reconsider trying it at all.

Don’t let excuses block your progress in the new year. Overcome, adapt, and improvise—and improve the educational lives of your students and faculty in the bargain.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Business Managers Vol. 13 No. 6 Practical Points of a BYOD Program
The Source for Risk Managers Vol. 6 No. 3 My Dog Ate My Creative Sick Day Excuse
The Source for Business Managers
Vol. 11 No. 3 Should You Implement Diversity Training?

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 40 No. 40 No. 7 Summer Program: The Third Semester—Three Administrative Considerations
I&P Vol. 39 No. 15 Launching Your School's Survey Initiative

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