Priorities, Public Declarations and a Challenge For All Teachers

Priorities are so important! With two weeks to go until school starts up again, I thought it would be a good idea to think about what my priorities are, so that I can focus on making my actions consistent with the things that matter the most to me. Too often, I have gotten so busy doing things, both at work and at home, without first carefully considering my priorities. Recently, I have been giving a lot of thought to the following quote about priorities by Stephen Covey:

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically – to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside. The enemy of the ‘best’ is often the ‘good.'”

In the last several years, I have been trying to do too much. In trying to do so many different things, I wasn’t doing the best that I could. A lot of what I was doing was only good. This year will be different, because I will act more consistently with what matters the most to me. I will say no to less important things, because I am going to have more important things to say yes to. It will be the best year for me, because here is what I am going to say yes to:

1. Family. Shouldn’t that be everyone’s #1 priority? And yet, time and again, we put off our loved ones because we have other things to do. I am going to say yes to my family a lot more this year. Yes to my wife, who could use more help around the house, and with raising our two boys. Yes to my boys, who want my attention. And here’s a novel idea: yes to me… I’m going to start coaching and training for pole vault again this year.

2. Friends. I’m going to say yes, just by planning ahead a little better, to make sure that we have the time to get together.

3. Work. I’m going to say yes to flipping my class, mastery learning, and blogging. More on these things in future posts!

Of course, there’s a lot I’ll need to say no to, like:

1. Allowing students to be dependent on me.

2. Nonproductive meetings.

3. Overbooking myself and tight timelines.

4. Depriving myself of sleep in the name of productivity, which just makes me too tired and nonproductive the next day.

Now about public declarations… they’re important too! If you know what your priorities are that’s great, but sometimes it helps to write them down, because it makes them more concrete. I’m taking that one step further, and making a public declaration of my priorities because, well… I’m going to feel awfully silly if I don’t act consistently with them! In fact, if there is anyone who reading this blog who runs into me in the next year, and gets the feeling that I am not acting consistently with what is most important to me, please feel free to give me heck for it! There, that should keep me in line!

Lastly, my challenge to all teachers: do for yourself what I have just done for myself.

See you on the flip side,



About Andy Miller

Math and Science Teacher at Walnut Grove Secondary School, classroom flipper, pole vaulter, husband, dad, etc.
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3 Responses to Priorities, Public Declarations and a Challenge For All Teachers

  1. okmbio says:

    Hi Andy! Great priorities and definitely in the right order. I am guilty of frequently getting my priorities messed up πŸ™‚ Every year I fight the good battle to get them in the correct order, so clear at the start!!
    i also really like this idea saying no to “1. Allowing students to be dependent on me.” this too is a hard one to break, but one that is so empowering for both student and teacher.
    I wish you the best of luck with your goals πŸ™‚

    • Andy Miller says:

      Thanks Carolyn! I think it’s going to be an interesting year… some challenges are ahead, but luckily I’m in a very forward-thinking environment, and already have a flipping buddy! He’s on Twitter too, so I’ll try to get him hooked up with all the other flippers.

  2. Pingback: A Turning Point in the Year | teacheramiller

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