How To Spot and Eliminate
Waste From Your Day


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You're listening to School Leadership Reimagined episode number 133

Welcome to the school leadership re-imagined podcast where we rethink what's possible to transform your school if you're tired of settling for small wins and incremental improvement, then stay tuned to discover powerful and practical strategies for getting every teacher in your school moving towards excellence. Now here's your host, Robyn Jackson.

Hey Builders,

Welcome to another episode of the school leadership reimagined podcast. I'm your host, Robyn Jackson. And today we're going to talk about probably one of the biggest game changing concepts that I've learned in say the last 510 years, it has really kind of given me a lot of focus when I work with my private clients. It's it's one of the things that we talk about very early in that engagement. And I want to share some of that with you.

We're going to be talking about the difference between value producing and waste. 

Now this is not a new concept they've been talking about in kind of management, business management circles for years. But I have been thinking about this a lot lately, as I've been working with schools, because I am seeing that, that a lack of understanding of the difference between something that is a value add and something that is truly waste is really encumbering a lot of us. I think that at the heart of a lot of our burnout, a lot of our overwhelm is that we are spending way too much time on activities that are really wasting our time, rather than spending our time on activities that provide value add now people will say But Robin, you don't understand my district makes me and so we're going to talk about that the realities of of some things that you're asked to do that are in that waste column. But when you think about it, like a builder when you approach, waste, mandated waste, like a builder, you can turn even waste into something that adds value to what you're doing in your school. And so we're going to talk about that today as we continue our verses series. But first, I've got a couple of really cool announcements. And the first one is that we are going to do something that we haven't done in a couple of years. But I just love doing this, we are going to give away 12 of our best resources over the course of December, we call it the 12 days of builder ship. And over the course of the 12 days starting.

We actually we've already started so we've already started doing this but it's not too late, you can still get 12 resources. These are some of our best resources, things like how to tell whether or not the teacher is the discipline problem in the classroom or how to build a healthy school culture and overcome toxicity. We have an ebook around that we have tons of free resources and we're giving them away this year in the 12 days of builder ship. Now if you are a member of buildership University, whether you are at the builder level or you're at the insider level, you will get all 12 of these resources we're gonna just put them on your dashboard and so if you are a member of builder ship university, you don't have to do anything you just go login to build a ship University and you can get access to all 12 of these resources if you're not a member of builder ship University, what are you waiting for go ahead and join buildership University we have a free tier now. And to do that you can simply go to builder ship and join build a ship University for free and get access to these resources. If you for some reason don't want to join buildership university or you're kind of leery about joining it. You can sample the kind of resources that we get and buildership University by simply just signing up for that 12 days of builder ship promotion and so we'll make sure we put a link to it. In the show notes for the podcast today. Remember, you can always get to the show notes for any episode by going to school leadership 133 That's today's episode, you can get every episode the same way school leadership reimagined com slash episode whatever today is 133 so if you want to get all 12 resources and have access to them for as long as you want.

My suggestion is you go to Buildership University and sign up for free. 

The other thing is that buildership University we are really doubling down on providing lots of resources inside of there. So those of you who are insiders, you know, we just finished a system simplifications sprint, where we took some of the systems that we have in our school and we reexamine those systems through the lens of our vision, mission and core values and made those systems work better anything from a discipline system to how to support your struggling learners a system around that to systems around how to plan lessons that are more rigorous and where standards aligned and mapping out those systems. And so we're actively doing that now we have a feedback thread inside of our kind of online forum. And people are posting their systems and getting feedback, we've been talking about systems and office hours. So that is continuing, we are going to be starting our next book club selection, you really going to like this one. So build a ship, university insiders, we've got a lot going on. Plus, we have a party in a couple of weeks. So make sure that if you are a builder, ship, university insider, that you are checking your email, we are going to send you a box, you know we are famous for our boxes. And don't think that just because you went to last year's December party, that you know what's in the box, the box has something totally new and different in it.

The only way you get access to the boxes, you have to RSVP for the party. So if you're a BU insider, look out for an email announcing the party, make sure that you RSVP, you know our parties are lit. So make sure that you join us for that. And if you're not a BU Insider, and you want to know what all the hype is about, again, go to builder ship University COMM And sign up and join the BU insider level. That's where we do office hours every other week, you get training on some of the critical issues that you're facing, we do sprints where we actually get work done. So it's not like you sit in training and have to do it later on, we get together we get the work done in real time together where you can ask questions and get coaching and see what other people are working on and collaborate. So we have that happening inside of builder ship University, it's just a really cool place to be. So build a ship University for our 12 days of builder ship resources, any level membership, you get access to that. And then if you want to go deeper, if you want to become a part of builders University, it's like my favorite part of what I do. We go to office hours and you know, people we're following up with each other, we're supporting each other people say all the time, I'm just coming to get my cup fill, I go to office hours to get my cup filled, it is one of the most supportive, wonderful group of people that I've ever had the privilege of serving, I love them so much. And so if you are not if you want to be a part of that, if you want to be a part of a group of people who are actually changing the game in education, who are changing their schools in some meaningful ways who are pursuing these 100% visions, and they're making progress, and they're seeing that progress, then you need to join build a ship University.

Last thing, Builder's Lab still has tickets available.

We only have about 20 tickets left. So if you've been thinking about coming to builders lab and you've been putting it off, you don't have much time left, you need to get your ticket, we will be having builders lab January 30, through February 2 2022. And it's going to be amazing. If you've been to builders lab before this builders lab is going to be a little different, we have learned so much that we are restructuring a lot of what happens in builders lab, yes, they will still be micro slicing, you won't miss out on that, yes, there will still be a builders box. And it is going to have some really cool surprises in there as well. But one of the things we're doing is we're making it a little bit more focused, you know, when you come to builders lab, the reason that you come is because you want to develop a more powerful vision for your school, you are tired of settling for these little tiny incremental gains, and you want to do something big you came to education, you became a principal, you became a district builder because you wanted to make a difference. And so what we do is we help you tap into that a lot of people tell you it can't be done, we'd show you how it can be done. So if you've got a big dream for your school, and you're frustrated, because you haven't been able to accomplish it, but you have a staff that doesn't see things the way you see that's a big frustration a lot of people feel is that you can see where your school needs to go, but your staff can't see. And so they're dragging their feet, if you really want some help in developing that vision, and then figuring out a plan for accomplishing it in the next three years. And doing it with whoever and whatever you have. Right now. builder's lab is the place to come because what we're going to do is when you're in builder's lab, we're going to help you first of all tap into your dream and figure out what your vision is. And then we're going to help you map out what are the big obstacles to your vision right now? And how do you remove the biggest one in the next 90 days.

So after you come to builders lab will follow up with you for 90 days straight with support, help additional training coaching so that you can remove the biggest obstacle. Imagine this. You come to builders lab at the end of January beginning of February and three months later that's before the end of the school year. Something that has been bugging you all year long. It's gone. Some thing that has been in your way and impeding your progress. It's gone and you don't have to deal with with it again. You know, instead of adding on, we talked about that a couple episodes ago about the difference between adding things on and removing friction, adding fuel or removing friction, we're doubling down on that concept of builders love, we're not telling you to do one more thing. We're telling you to remove some things that are getting in the way, but to get rid of those obstacles for you and for your teachers, so that you can actually see progress before the end of the year. So if you want to come to builders lab, and I hope you do, I really would love to work with you directly. It's a small group of people, we keep it small, we keep it intimate, we get to know each other, I get invested in your school, and you have me as your coach for your school for the next three months or beyond that if you continue with us, inside of builder ship University, and you get that support, you get the resources, you get the tools, you get the the additional insight that comes with being a part of that community. So if you want to join us, and I hope you do, you need to go to mind steps, that's mind steps.

All right, let's talk about waste versus value production. 

I'll be honest, when I first heard this concept, it's a manufacturing concept comes from a book I really love called The Goal. probably other people have talked about it as well. But it's the idea that rather than trying to speed things up to produce something, what if instead, you looked at what you were doing, and you started removing waste systematically from from your work, so that your work can be more efficient, more effective, and produce bigger and better results with less effort. Now, that immediately appealed to me. But for a long time, I couldn't see how it worked in school, because, honestly, there's so much waste in school that's kind of baked into the way schools are made, I just didn't understand how you could do that, you know, I get the whole idea. People say manufacturing concepts don't work in school, because we're not dealing with products, we're dealing with people and I get that. But that doesn't mean you throw out the whole idea, because there's some value in it. And so I've been thinking about this for a few years now. And one of the things that I've started doing when I work with my private clients is sitting down and really taking a look at what's in their way. And sometimes it's an obstacle that we have to remove. But in most cases, the reason that schools are not producing bigger and better results for kids, it's waste. So you need to start if you really want to make progress this year, if you if you really want to eliminate some of the overwhelm that a lot of your teachers are feeling that you are probably feeling yourself, if you want to eliminate some of the frustrations that you are feeling because you can't move as quickly as you want. You really need to get serious about understanding what activities you do in the building everyday are value adding value producing, what activities are waste. And so today's versus is about value add versus wait.

So let's talk first about what is a value adding opportunity. Now in manufacturing, there's another definition we're throwing it out because I can't figure out how it works with schools. Here's what what I've come to believe are the idea of value adding opportunities, the purpose of school is to help students learn. That's I can't simplify it more than that. So anything that helps students learn whether it's learning social emotional skills and intelligence, whether it's learning, reading, writing, and arithmetic, whether it's learning lessons from their own behavior, whether it's learning who they are, and, and what their dreams are, what their talents and skills are whatever that is, when we help students learn, that is how we add value. So anything that you do in your school that helps students learn is value adding, but there's another subcategory of value adding that is called Value enabling. And oftentimes, when I'm working with my clients, I'll have them sit down and list everything that happens in their school, every thing that they do on a day to day basis. And what things are value adding they directly impact student learning? What things are value enabling they put structures in place to support student learning, and what things are waste. They don't add to student learning, they actually create more complication. They take up valuable time, but they don't add value to student learning. And it's always eye opening.

The waste column is always very, very long, the value add column is very, very short. 

The value enabling column is just slightly longer the value at column. So when you look at your time that way, are you spending most of your time on things that add value or enable value? Or are you spending most of your day on waste? And in most cases where I've done this, I've done this with superintendents looking at what are the system They haven't placed for their district. And we've realized why their district is so bloated. I've done this with department heads and looking at what they do as a department, you know, they think that they are adding or enabling value. But in many cases, they are just producing a lot of waste. And getting those departments really focused on adding value again, and I've done this with principals and assistant principals looking at the day to day work that they are doing in their teachers are doing and getting the schools refocus on doing work that adds value that enables or produces student learning and taking off things off teachers plates that are waste, you know, people who say, Oh, you know what, we need to take some things off teachers plates, and they just randomly take stuff off people's plates. Now, I don't know about you, but not everything that's on my plate is something I want you to take from me. There's some things that I'm doing that I really believe are important, you know, taking away time from lesson planning, taking away my autonomy and lesson planning, by handing me a lesson that you've already created for me that all I have to do is follow a script. Those are not helping me, I want to think about how to help students learn, I would love for you to give me the time and freedom to be able to do that if I'm a teacher. So when we randomly take stuff off people's plates, rather than looking at their plates and saying, where's the waste? And how can I remove the waste so that people can stay engaged in the work that really produces value? We're messing up.

So let's talk about some things that are value adding lesson planning is value adding when it's done correctly when the lessons result in in more rigorous and engaging learning experiences for kids value adding assessment value adding because we're looking to see where students are, if we assess students, and then take those assessment results, and use those results to adjust how we deliver instruction and how we follow up with students value adding things that are value enabling are things like running the buses, the cafeteria, while they don't directly produce student learning, if you're cafeterias runway, you give students the fuel to learn everyday through wholesome and nutritious lunches, and an opportunity to just kind of relax for a little bit before I go back and have to engage my brain in some learning. If you run the buses, right, we get the kids to school on time we get them there safely, we make sure that no incidents on the bus that kind of temper rotate their day. And so they have a really good experience transferring from home to school every single day. So when they come to school, their brains are ready to learn because I didn't experience some kind of trauma on the bus, that's value enabling. Now, waste, that list gets very long, unnecessary meetings. You know, I don't dislike meetings, I'll be honest with you, I think meetings can be very valuable. They are value enabling, like if you have a really good planning meeting that identifies an obstacle to student learning and removes that obstacle in the meeting, that's a value enabling meeting, when you have a meeting where everybody kind of sits around and jobs about the problems and blah, blah, blah, and complains, and then you leave that meeting and there's no resolution, there's no action that comes out of that meeting, waste.

When you look at your day, are you spending your time producing value, enabling value, or are you spending most of your time in waste? 

So what I did is I took some of the concepts, and I created kind of a waste audit. I know that sounds kind of nasty, doesn't it, I may have to give it another name. But I created a kind of tool that you can use to see and identify waste in your building. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to put it inside a bill to ship University for free. So anybody who's on that free tier bill to ship University, you'll get this tool, if you want the tool, just join, buildership University free, you can get access to this tool, plus all the other resources that are available. If you're bu inside, of course, you're going to get it. And we might even devote an office hours to kind of working through the the tool together and supporting each other to kind of look at our own school and identify the ways. Let me know if you want that in the comments. And if that's something that you want, well, we'll set aside, you know, maybe a session to use the tool. But here's the way the tool works. I've identified maybe 11 areas, 10 or 11 areas of waste in your school. And I want you to and I'm going to list them there, then you're going to look at this tool and figure out okay, what do I do this value adding what what in our school is value enabling and what in our school is ways that's not black and white, right? Because, as we've already discussed, a meeting can be value adding a meeting can also be waste. It depends on how you're using the meeting. So it's not just you can go through and just list check off things, meetings tool, you know, lesson planning, sometimes lesson planning, if you are not thinking about how to provide students with an optimal learning experience, if you're only just kind of slapping a whole bunch of activities on a lesson plan and then slapping the standards at the top. That's waste.

So you can't just put lesson plan Landing is value producing and meetings as waste. If you have a really good meeting that solves a problem, it's value enabling, if you have lesson planning process that is just terrible, it's a waste. So it's an, it's a tool to help you kind of analyze what you do in your building to make sure that you are reducing waste, and you're spending more time enabling or producing value. Alright, so I'm going to give you I'm going to kind of read to you some of the things on the tool just so that even if you don't download the tool, you can start thinking about these things when it comes to your building. So the first kind of sign that something is waste is anytime something is either overcomplicated or it's over processed. Anytime you do more than what is minimally required to get the job done. It's waste. So these are things like, sometimes we have a this one drives me nuts, I go to schools all the time. And their systems are so overly complicated with so many different unnecessary steps that it's just it's horrible. Like, think about your student referral system, we've been doing this a lot on system mapping, you know, a teacher, a student miss, commits an infraction in class, the teacher fills out some complicated form, the teacher has to call somebody has to find somebody to come and escort the student out of the classroom into the main office, the whole time that's going on, learning is paused. It's just not happening. And then the student comes down to the office, the student fills out a reflection form, they sit in the chair, then it gets you know, the somebody reads reflection form. Does this hand get handled by the counselor? Does this get handled in just ISS or detention? Does this get handled by the administrator is this the first infraction is the second infraction is the third infraction, what does our code of conduct, say who needs to get caught, and all of that time the student is out of class and not learning. So if you have a system in your building, that is overly complicated, too many steps, whether that system is how you submit grades, or how you give feedback to students, or how you process disciplinary issues, whatever that is, it's waste.

The second sign that something might be waste is if it requires a lot of searching in order to get something done.

I have to find the form of find the paperwork, or look up something online, and I can't find it. And where is it, and I can't find it easily when I need it. That is waste. Now, this one was my desk. When I was a teacher, my desk was a waste pit, I was always looking for papers that I that I needed to find even as an administrator, I had a hard time keeping track of it. And so if you find that you're spending a lot of your day searching for actual pieces of paper, or your files on your computer are disorganized, or your emails are not organized, that is a sign that that activity has even if it began as something that was value, adding value producing that activity is now waste. The third sign of waste is correction and rework. If you are spending a lot of time correcting your errors, or someone else's errors, or you're spending a lot of time doing something and then having to redo it or your teachers just spending a lot of time doing something and having to redo it, or your students are spending a lot of time doing something and having to redo it multiple times, that's a sign that there's something broken in that system that needs to be fixed. If you can eliminate as much as possible the potential for errors in a system, that system becomes way more efficient. So think about this. If if your teachers when they are uploading things, if it's easy for them to make an error when they have to upload some critical piece of information. Or if you're asking your teachers to track something, and you're seeing a lot of errors in the tracking, Miss qualifying things.

I see this a lot in discipline issues where a teacher refers students to the office for something that really isn't a referral offense, and you see it happening over again, that's an error in judgment. So when you see these kinds of errors happening, people repeatedly making errors, that's a sign that there's waste somewhere in that system. And if you can go through the system and find where the where the errors are more likely to happen and correct that in the system, you eliminate a lot of waste. The fourth one is that if you are dealing with the same problem over and over again and you are constantly in a firefighting mode, that's a sign that that's waste. Because if you're dealing with a problem once or twice, and then you address the problem, so it's fixed and you never have to deal with it again. That's pretty efficient. That's great. You're moving your school forward. That's what we try to teach you how to do a builder's lab. If you keep dealing with the same problem at the same point every year, every week, same thing over and over again and you feel like you're constantly putting out fires. That's a sign that there is waste happening in your system. Where are you solving the same problem over and over again? Where are you putting out fires constantly look at that area and find the waste when you eliminate that you eliminate waste, and you no longer have to deal with that issue. Alright, the next one is procrastination, do you find that there are some tasks that you just keep putting off, and you just don't want to deal with? You know, I read something recently that said, clutter is a sign of just delayed decisions.

If you see a lot of clutter, it's because I can't deal with that right now. I'll deal with it later. 

The stuff just piles up instead of putting it where it needs to be. The same thing is true for procrastination, if there's something that you are procrastinating about, and you're not getting to whether that's getting into classrooms, whether that's following up with a teacher, there's something about that thing that you're being asked to do that, that that's wasteful. And so one of the reasons you're procrastinating about it, and that you can't even procrastinate about it, is because there's some waste in there. So that's a sign that you want to look at that system carefully and figure out what is it that I'm trying to avoid about doing this task? And how can I create the task, redesign the task? So that is something that I do enjoy? The next one, is there miscommunication or lack of clarity? So when people are unclear about what you're asking them to do, when people keep asking a whole bunch of questions, when you thought it was perfectly clear, there's time there's waste there, because people aren't understanding what you're being asked to do. You're spending all this time answering questions you thought were already answered. So work on that area, work on the clarity so that you can eliminate the waste that that miscommunication or lack of clarity creates. Alright, the next one is assuming or blaming. Now I see this a lot. And this one seems like a weird one to add to the list, I debated about whether I was going to put this on the list. But I see a lot of waste happening because people make assumptions that are not true. The moment that you go in and you do the work to eliminate assumptions, you do the work to eliminate blame.

You know, people are right now a lot of teachers are blaming the kids. Because of the misbehavior, you're seeing a lot more behavior issues this year. A lot of people are blaming parents, you know, for not doing anything with their kids. But you know, where the big blame is, right now. It's on the school district, I have heard so many people blaming the school district. And it is taking the day to day operations of the school and turning it into a Stan Hill standstill, people are protesting against every new innovation that happens in a school because they're mad at the school district. And that is creating a lot of waste. And so if you, if you are looking at people who are you know, like blame, and you have a lot of blame, you can have to deal with that blame because that blame is creating ways. If you see that people are making assumptions, but they're not following up with those assumptions. They're not checking in, or they're not really dealing with a reality, like a lot of people are assuming this COVID thing is going to go away. I heard somebody say the other day, I'm so over COVID COVID. And I was like, you may be over COVID, but COVID, not over you. And so when we have people who have that attitude, then it creates waste, it slows things down. And so that's really at the heart of some of the reasons why things are slowing down. We have to address that. Now. We don't have time during this episode to address it.

If that's something that you want us to address, let me know in the Facebook group.

The School Leadership Reimagined Facebook group, or if you're in buildership university, you can let me know in the comments. But if that's something you want to deal with the fact that a lot of people are blaming and shutting down and they're mad at the school district itself, because they don't believe the district has done enough to support them. Let me know and we'll do an episode on how to deal with that there's a way you can help people get out of blame and get productive again. And so if that's something you're interested in, let me know. Alright, the next one is duplication. Do you find that you are having to duplicate things like you sent an email, then you have the meeting and you share that same information again, you you see that a decision is being made here. But then somebody else needs to make the decision here. You see two different people who have the same responsibilities, and they're not working together. Any form of duplication is waste. So I want you to think about your organization. Where is there duplication, redundancy, that that you may want to address and eliminate? Alright, we've got two more. Next one is task switching. So a lot of people feel like Oh, I'm so multi, you know, what is it? I know, I can do more than what I can multitask. That's what I'm trying to say. I can multitask. And there have been studies that have shown that every time you switch from one task to the next task, you lose time. So think about the accumulation of time and energy that you lose over the course of a day because you've been tasked Switching all day. And yet, how much of our day is full of interruptions? How much of our day are we expected to task switch? Well, is that the best way to add value to our students is the best way to help our students learn.

Teachers are asked to task with switch all the time, they don't never get like a dedicated planning period where they can focus on planning, because part of the planning period is taken up with a meeting. And then oh, wait, I'm in another, I need to talk with you during your planning period. And so I plan for a few minutes and I got to go down and talk to you about my evaluation, then I got to go to my mailbox. And then I'll try to plan a little bit more while I'm running copies. And it's just we do a lot of task switching, how often are you task switching every single day think about this, you start you sit down to do some work that you really need to get done, you get a knock on the door got a minute, 20 minutes later that person is leaving your office, you try to get something else done up time for lunch duty, then you try to get something else done up, we may have a case of COVID case you got to investigate, try to get something else done up, we got a kid sit down for discipline. And throughout the day you are task switching, where can you streamline that so one of the little hacks that I tell people all the time is if you've got something that you need to work on and focus on, instead of trying to do it in your office, do it in the back of somebody's classroom, find out who's given a test that day, and go and sit in the back of their classroom because then you're it's almost like you're hiding out you there are no interruptions or very few interruptions turn your radio down so you don't disturb the kids. Let one person know where you are so that if they need to find you, they can find you. You're in a classroom, you're around kids, and you have a quiet place where you can get something really important done without having to do task switching, and all kinds of things like that, that you can do. You want to downplay, eliminate as much as possible tasks, which and giving yourself blocks of time to do work. So that you can get more done in the time that you have, rather than something taking all day.

Every time you get interrupted, you have to get refocused on work. 

Again, don't try to do things that need your full concentration, when you know you're going to be interrupted. That doesn't mean you come to work early and stay late and ignore your family, we have to look at your school day. And this is what you know I often do with my clients is we look at the school day to find when is the best time and place to get that work done. And how important is that work to get done in the first place. And then giving people the dedicated time to do it, you get more done, because you're not being interrupted. And the work is of a higher quality, you don't have as many mistakes. Alright, the last one is waiting. This one is a huge source of weight. If you have a meeting that starts at 1030, it needs to start at 1030. Because but if it starts at 1032, if it starts at 1040, you've now wasted that time and the accumulation of wasted 10 minutes here five minutes there throughout the day really hurts not only your productivity, but it hurts your energy because you know, you get geared up in the meeting, then you wait, then you get geared up for the next thing. And then you wait. Oftentimes the waiting happens even with things like you know, when I was a teacher, I had a waiting waste problem because it took me so long to grade papers that I couldn't move on with the next part of the lesson because kids hadn't gotten feedback from the part that they just completed because it took me so long to grade papers, I had to invent a way to grade papers that gave kids the feedback that they wanted, and could help me cut my grading time in half so that I could get it to them faster.

The moment I did that there was more learning happening in my classroom. The same thing is true for you. Where are people waiting? Is it parents that are waiting to get feedback? You know, think about this. A lot of times kids are not doing well in a class. But parents don't find out until progress report time. And by that time you are four and a half weeks into a nine week marking period. How much time do I have to remedy that with my child, when the first time I'm hearing about it is you know, it's four and a half weeks before you send it and maybe five weeks before I get it. Get an appointment with a teacher to talk about what we need to do to help my student now we're in six, Week Six and week seven of a nine week marking period. That's waste. How can we get feedback to kids more quickly so that they can act on that feedback and recover and adjust? How can we get feedback to teachers more quickly? You know, a lot of times teachers don't get evaluated but twice a year. So I'm doing something and practicing doing something the wrong way for half a year before an administrator gets into my classroom to help me correct it. By that time. I have already had weeks, sometimes even months of doing it wrong and practicing doing it wrong before you tell me hey, that's not the right way to do things. Here's a better way and then I have to switch and try that new way. And how far in the year Am I in and are my students before I've adjusted my instruction to better serve my kids. So waiting is a huge source of waste. Are there places in your your your the way that you run your school right now that have huge amounts of wait time between the time something starts and this time you get an answer for that, and if so, that's a source of waste. So again, we'll put this audit on inside of bu buildership university so that those of you who really want to kind of spend some time thinking about where the waste is in your school, you can sit down and do this, and then identify those areas of waste. And then once you see that, once you see that you are spending a lot of time on activities that are wasteful, rather than activities that are adding value, then you can begin to adjust.

You're not doing anything new. You're not instituting a new system, you're not putting a new process in place.

Instead, you're getting rid of the stuff that slows you down, you're getting rid of the stuff that gets in the way of what you really want to accomplish at your school. And that's why thinking like a builder is so important. Now, I hear I hear it out in the ether. There's somebody out there they say, Yeah, Robin, but you forgot to address the issue with my district. No, I didn't. If your district asked you to do something, paperwork, contact tracing. Another process, another forum, another Data Dive doesn't mean that the request itself is a waste. It's only waste if you just comply with a request. And I see a lot of people right now who are in compliance mode. So the district says you have to do XY and Z. So people just oh, well, how do we have any other choice a district asked me to do it. And they get into compliance mode, rather than looking at what the district is asking them to do. And figuring out how can I turn this from something that feels like waste right now, and to something that's going to add value to my school? Let me give an example. I was working with a principal recently. And she was so frustrated because the district was changing the mandated that they change the amount of time that they spend on reading, they're reducing the amount of time that the students could spend on reading every single day, putting a cap on the amount of time because they wanted kids to do some other work practicing for standardized test. So she's so upset, because she's saying, This is what my kids need, I need to spend this time on reading so many kids come from, you know, come you know, they're they're so far behind when they get to me that I need the chance to get caught up, then we start looking at it. First of all, we looked at how the teachers were using the extended amount of time that they currently were having. And we found a waste in that.

So we streamlined how teachers were using time eliminated some of the waste from the class period, so that teachers could accomplish the same amount in less time. The second thing we did is that new block of time that they were supposed to be spending on teaching standardized tests. We said how can we turn this into a learning experience, rather than just you know drilling, killing kids and doing practice tests. This is the time that we can go in and start either backfilling knowledge that the students and knowledge and skills of the students were missing, that helps them to be more effective on the test. Or we could spend that time previewing knowledge and skills that they would need, teaching them things like instead of doing multiple choice tests, teaching them the bigger thinking skill of air analysis, which makes kids better at multiple choice tests, but also teaches kids a thinking skill that they can use in other places. So that testing period became a period where we really looked at teaching kids how to think. And when the students learned how to think their test performance increased, it was more interesting to teach kids about thinking than it was to do drill and kill stuff. And we hardly ever did practice multiple choice test, they did some because they wanted the kids to get familiar with the test taking format. They spent their time doing error analysis, they spent their time helping kids compare and contrast and all those other thinking skills. So they took a district mandate, and they turned it into something that created more value for students.

Maybe your district is asking you to change the way you use your PLCs. 

Like another principle I'm working with right now. And they're giving you this protocol that you have to go through for the PLC that feels horrible. And instead, what we did is we took the protocol that is required by the district can't deviate from it. And we put value in each of those steps. So the protocol is really about diving into data, where we found opportunities for value, it didn't specify the exact data that we had to dive into. So we are using that protocol now to really look at the data that is most important for where that principal wants to move that school. So we have something that we teach in inside of builders lab and builders university that helps you distill the data down to a couple of just key indicators. And so instead of looking at all this data and just kind of getting lost in the numbers, we are using the protocol to keep people focus on some of those key data points that really are going to drive the work of the school. And so now this district mandated Data Dive has really become a A good way for teachers to stay focused on the goal, the vision, the mission and core values of the school, and how their individual work impacts that. So, district mandates, I don't really care about them, I get mad sometimes some of them that people bring me are rather stupid, you know, like, people who build builders, builders, university insiders, you know, that there have been a couple of times when people come to office hours, and they're like, Okay, so my district has asked me to do this, how do I see this through the lens of a builder, and I just, you know, shaking my head, my head down, because I just can't believe you know, why somebody would make you do that.

But when you think like a builder, you can take something from what I call mandated waste, you can take mandated waste and turn it into something that adds value to your school, but you can't do it if you don't know the difference. And so what I want to challenge you to do today is to see your work a little differently, stop looking at the individual tasks, ask yourself, Does this thing that I'm working on right now, add value? Is it? Is it directly impacting students learning? does it enable value, and if you find that you've got to explain too much to figure out, if it enables value stop, it should be pretty obvious how it enables that learning if it doesn't enable learning, or directly create learning for students. It is waste. And if it's waste, you want to eliminate as much of it as possible. So my challenge to you this week, are you adding value? Or is it a waste. And the moment you start to look at your work that way, it opens up all kinds of possibilities, you see, without adding anything else to people's plates, how you can make the work that you do in your school more efficient, more enjoyable, more effective in and actually produce results. And when you start thinking about what do I take from teachers plates? Well, what teachers want you to do is stop adding waste to their plates, so that they can do the work that they came here to do what what you want to do most is spend your day working on the things that are actually going to make a difference in the lives of kids. So you can do this, or you can keep wasting a lot of time. And here's what's going to happen. The more you and your teachers spend your day on waste, the less students learn, that's obvious. But here's the other thing, the more frustrated you become, the more overwhelmed, you become. Because you have to wade through so much waste to find value, the more burned out, you become. Because you spend all day working on things that are really wasteful. And so at the end of the day, you've worked hard, but you have nothing to show for it, you, you completed a couple of papers, you sat through a couple of meetings, but you have nothing to show for it.

When you spend the majority of your time on waste and you just keep letting it happen... waste accumulates.

It just keeps piling on, it's not going to get any better. But when you start to look at your work through this lens, and eliminate a lot of the waste, this is when the magic starts happening. This is when you get more done in the day than you ever thought possible. And you go home and even if you're tired, you feel like that's like a day because you actually did something that adds value to the lives of the kids that you're serving to the teachers that you're serving, you have made a difference. So again, your challenge this week, what do you do that's value adding or value enabling? What do you do that's waste. And then you're going to get to work, creating more value, and stop spending so much time on waste, so that you can actually do work that matters. Because you've approached your work and you see your work like a builder. I'll talk to you next time. Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at builder ship University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you where you'll be able to get the exact training that you need to turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. Inside you'll find our best online courses, live trainings with me tons of resources, templates and exemplars and monthly live office hours with me where you can ask me anything and get my help on whatever challenge you're facing right now. If you're tired of hitting obstacle after obstacle and you're sick of tiny little incremental gains each year, if you're ready to make a dramatic difference in your school right now, then you need to join bill to ship University. Just go to build a ship and get started writing your school success story today.

Hey, if you're ready to get started being a builder right away, then I want to invite you to join us at Buildership University. It's our exclusive online community for builders just like you where you'll be able to get the exact training that you need to turn your school into a success story right now with the people and resources you already have. You'll find our best online courses, live trainings with me tons of resources, templates and exemplars and monthly live office hours with me where you can ask me anything and get my help on whatever challenge you're facing right now. If you're tired of hitting obstacle after obstacle and you're sick of tiny little incremental gains each year, if you're ready to make a dramatic difference in your school right now, then you need to join Buildership University. Just go to and get started writing your school success story today.

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