Stay in Your Lane

Our school is in a transition period with new staff members. I’m grateful for the people we’ve hired. With this type of change, people both in and out of school are sometimes unsure about who handles which duties. “Who do I speak with when we need to whitelist emails for our digital collaboration project?” a school partner asked me. I don’t know what a whitelist is, so I encouraged them to speak with our IT department.

We can get ensnared in these tasks if we are not careful. Sometimes we are even able to complete the task. “Yes, I know how to get students registered on their laptops,” I shared with the same person when asked. But should I? As I asked in a previous post, what is our job with a capital J?

The phrase “stay in your lane” comes to mind whenever I feel the inclination to take on tasks that are not a priority in my position. “Stay in your lane”, a term I first heard in the book Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo, means staying true to what you are best at and are in the best position to address. My belief is we have around 1-2, maybe 3 areas in which we should focus on as school leaders.

You ask: What are those areas? The specifics can vary from school to school…schoolwide professional learning has got to be one, along with building trust and culture. You pick the third as needed.

This is not to say that I am unwilling to pitch in when something comes up unexpectedly or when we are in the middle of a transition. Everyone should shoulder more responsibilities to help our new people get acclimated. While walking through classrooms recently, a document camera was not functioning properly. I happily offered to check the cables and settings while the teacher worked with her kids. Not finding success, IT was contacted. Allow people to do what they do best. That goes for ourselves as much as anyone.