We have a saying here at Schechter: “If you really want to know what we value most, you only have to look in two places – the calendar and the budget.”
And it is true; there are no more valuable resources than our time and our money. How we decide to allocate them is, therefore, the truest test of our values. All the rest is commentary, as they say…
Or, to get at it another way, my younger daughter, Maytal (6), asked me the other day, “Do you just sit at your desk all day looking at your computer?”
Now that I am at about the 1/4-year mark of my first year as Executive Director of the Schechter Day School Network, I think it is a reasonable and useful question to ask: What exactly does the head of a network of schools do and are those things the best and most useful allocation of time for those schools or the field?
The first part of the question is pretty easy to answer, and I will attempt to transparently quantify and qualify how I’ve been spending my time. The second question is somewhat a matter of opinion, and although I will share mine, yours might be of even greater value.
That pixellated calendar above is actually a screenshot of my calendar for this week – the first full week of work those of us in the Jewish world have had in a while. I don’t know (yet) if this is a typical (non-travel) week for me, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume that it is. Let’s also base the the percentages on a 40-hour work week, knowing that no one actually works that amount of time. Better a straw man to poke at than a pile of straw.
So, let’s see how the numbers stack up for this week:
- Staff Meetings: These are any meetings that take place with different constellations of Schechter professional staff. It could be a full staff meeting (weekly) or scheduled meetings with members of the professional staff to discuss and work on projects (EduPlanet21, edJEWcon, etc.).
- School Consults: This includes conversations with either the head and/or board chair of a member school.
- Thought Leadership: This includes activities that further the cause of participating in thought leadership for the field, such as writing articles, blogging or engaging in social media for the sake of providing resources or facilitating conversations.
- New Business Development: This includes all activities that could lead to “new business” for the network – projects, initiatives, pilots, opportunities, etc. – that could result in new activities for the network and/or the schools.
- Placement: Working with both schools and heads engaged in the search process.
- Foundations: This includes reporting on current projects, grant writing for new projects and all the stewardship thereof.
- Intra-Network Meetings: This includes all meetings and conversations that take place between the networks and agencies who service the field on current or potential collaborations. This year, of course, it includes work on the upcoming North American Jewish Day School Conference.
- Correspondance: Keeping up with email and phone calls!
- Board Development: All communication and planning for the development of our lay board.
- Fundraising: Raising money for the network and its schools.
- Professional Development: Making sure I continue to grow as a leader.
- Supervision: Making sure I facilitate the growth of others.
- Miscellaneous: Whatever didn’t make a category.
So. That’s what the week of October 20th, 2014 looks like for me.
Again, leaving aside what weeks of travel look like (it will be a busy November!) and whether this one week is truly representative of the rest…is this a good use of my time?
You would have to fold in the rest of the professional team, compare and contrast to our strategic plan, etc., to really give a scientific answer, but my read of it includes the following observations:
- These feel like the correct categories of activity for the head of a network of schools.
- Considering where Schechter is in its rebirth, I am torn between a variety of activities that all feel critically important – helping to build a board, helping to execute a development plan for long-term sustainability, responding directly to the needs of schools, developing and shepherding new projects and initiatives for the schools and the field, and learning a lot more about the schools and the field. I could and should spend all my time on all of those…
- This is a great time to be Schechter! I am extremely proud of our team, our schools and our stakeholders…what we have managed to do in only four months of operating at full strength is extraordinary and hopefully a harbinger of what is to come.
- Helping to plan a conference with “systems intelligence” at the heart comes at the right time for us! It creates lots of good energy when the different oars of your work manage to steer you in the same direction. That is definitely the case for Schechter.
Why share this publicly?
Transparency. Accountability. Reflective Practice.
You have a right to know how I spend my time. I want you to know. And I want to learn from you…
…so feel free to comment or contact me directly. Upcoming “Transparency Files” will examine our budget (and budgeting process), what it means when we visit a community and seasonal self-evaluations.
In the meanwhile, my schedule is calling me to next activity!