Quick Advice for Leaders on Managing Time

Short on Time: How do I make time to lead and learn as a principal?
By William Sterrett
(ASCD Arias, 2013 – Learn more)

demato smallReviewed by Joseph D’Amato

Time is always in short in supply, and as a Middle School Principal it seems non-existent. What administrator would not jump at an opportunity to read about practical strategies that colleagues have implemented to increase their ability to be an effective professional leader?

Shortness of time has been an area I have been investigating for quite a while, trying to balance the needs of students, parents, teachers, professional development, the APPR (our annual performance review), new curriculum and a myriad of other administrative duties.

shosrt on timeShort on Time is a wonderful resource. Published in ASCD’s Arias format, it is a short and easy read that shares time management strategies already being used around the country. The book covers ideas for making more efficient use of time in the areas of Managing Priorities, Maximizing Learning, and Collaborative Growth. There are 5 sections in the book, each with a few questions for the reader to reflect on.

Leverage technologies

Author William Sterrett gets right to the heart of the matter that schools cannot be powered by a small core of hard-working people; instead we must teach, learn, collaborate, and lead together. He goes on by saying that it is only through deliberate action and clever time management that we can optimize the minutes we have during the day to meet those goals.

He delivers a perspective on the major areas of priority that administrators face, and the need to leverage current technologies to create a centralized calendar focusing on those areas that are most important. He also shares some insights on streamlining communication with staff, allowing leaders to honor the time of others as well. Again and again, Sterrett emphasizes maintaining focus in all communications.

Make more time for instruction

An area I can truly relate to is the need to increase instructional time for students. My school improvement team has been researching schedule variations and have discovered that the schedule changes with the quickest impact are right in front of us. In our case it involved combining homeroom with Period 1. Reducing hall travel and redundant attendance-taking immediately added to instructional time.

The vignettes shared in Short on Time are no different and are equally impacting. I was pleased to see that his section on scheduling addressed the needs of the whole child as a priority. The entire section on scheduling had the common theme of teacher collaboration to improve the school, using their combined efforts and experiences to drive change.

Collaborate via effective meetings

The third section of the book focused on collaborative growth. This area really addresses school culture and how as building leaders we need to find ways to use our meetings to improve culture. Sterrett writes about the ABC’s that should be present in each meeting: Affirmation, Best Practices and Coordination.

This section is packed with short stories and ideas that are easy to implement or modify, and they will definitely spark the creative process as you read through them. Once again the reader is urged to find ways to leverage technology to make the most of the short time in each day.

One of the book’s major highlights is the Encore. This section gives 18 action steps for building leaders to reflect on or implement, as well as a link to even more action suggestions. The Encore also includes a collection of references for further research and study.

Brief yet thought provoking, Short on Time is a worthwhile read for administrators or administrative teams.

Joseph D’Amato is the Principal of Depew Middle School in Western New York. He has worked with Middle Level students as a math teacher and administrator for last 26 years of his educational career. He is also the Region 9 alternate for the New York State Middle School Association (NYSMSA) and is the vendor chair for the NYSMSA Annual Conference. He maintains a professional network on Twitter as @jdamatoNYSMSA.


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