From the Principal

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

A Teacher Makes 1500 Educational Decisions A Day
“Not sure where the data comes from exactly, but it’s a number that makes sense–and may be even higher. (It works out to about 4 per minute assuming 6 hours of “instruction.”).

Teaching has been compared to rocket science, but usually in jest, as in it’s not rocket science. But any teacher worth their salt–and thus aware of the incredible demands of instructional design, personalizing learning, classroom management, the always-on demand of student and collegial relationships, grading, and so on. Teaching isn’t rocket science; it’s harder.

While it’s exactly this kind of extraordinary burden that underscores the need for new learning models that decenter the teacher, the fact remains–if you really are meeting the needs of all of your students, teaching is crushingly difficult to do well on a consistent basis.” S.M Singer, January 2019.

Yes, they do! And sometimes so do members of our School’s Executive: “Each day, principals make dozens of decisionssmall decisions and big decisions, decisions that may have minor consequences or major consequences for their staff and students, decisions that affect one person or an entire community.”  Education World.

I know with a community of over 1200 students, 120+ teachers and volunteers and 738 families, some of the decisions we make will not please everybody.

Sometimes our decisions are as a result of mandates from other bodies:

  • NESA curricula
  • WHS legislation
  • Mandatory reporting etc etc

(I believe there are over 110 pieces of individual legislation and regulations that have an impact on school operations in NSW).

Sometimes we need to make decisions and have the time to fully consult, listen, talk and take advice.

Sometimes we have to make decisions that are “time-critical”decisions that need to be made on the spot to protect, comply or maintain operations.

“Sometimes it’s not about making the right decision, but just making a decision at all. Command decision-making is where leaders make decisions without consulting their teams. This is an effective style, especially when things are moving quickly and the team is looking for immediate guidance. In a business setting, leaders use this style the most effectively on large financial decisions and in crisis situations. Consensus-based decision-making is done more like a democratic vote. Leaders gather their teams and everyone votes. Majority rules. In a quick-moving business environment, this is not the most efficient way to make a decision.” Ways For Leaders to Make a Decision, Brent Gleeson

In case you have ever wondered how people like the Principal and the School Executive arrive at important decisions here is a little insight. Research on what makes a great school give this template of priorities for critical decisions:

  • Priority One → What is best for the school community as a whole.
  • Priority Two → What is best for our students.
  • Priority Three → What is best for the variety of “stakeholders” impacted by the decision.

In the increasingly complex world of today’s education, lodestones such as this, combined with a clear understanding of the School’s Vision for education and the values that underpin it, make it easier to “get it right” when it truly matters.

Strategy is about choice. You can’t accommodate all conflicting demands and interests. You cannot please everyone.” McKinsey Quarterly: The Perils of Bad Strategy

When we make a decision at St Columba about any aspect of our School’s life, we make it so that the school can continue to serve its families, now and in the future.

We know that we may not please everybody. We have to live with that, but sometimes we have to “just make a decision and move forward.” (3 Timeless Rules for Making Tough Decisions, Peter Bregman) because the school needs to continue to educate, operate and provide a safe and inspiring place for nearly 1200 students, every hour of every school day.

And in the end, if you don’t like a decision we make, let me know because “It is important for managers to ensure that contributors are aware when the final decision rests with the manager.(Dr Janet Fitzell,  Management Decision-Making, Professionals Australia) That’s me!

“A mediocre strategy well executed is better than a great strategy poorly executed.”


Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School
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