Working Smarter – 3 Questions

We’ve all heard this phrase before – work smarter not harder – but what does it really mean, especially in education.  We’re all busy, that’s a given.  However, just because we manage to fill our minutes doesn’t mean we are maximizing our possible successes.  Whenever you are beginning something new, implementing something new, or even thinking about something new, the following three questions will help you work “smarter” in your classroom, school, or even district.

(1) Is it going to make us more efficient? We are, as I mentioned above, all busy.  The question is whether or not the “IT” is going to allow us to maximize the use of our minutes.  None of us have time for the add-on so we need to make sure that whatever we are thinking about will make us more efficient at what we do. If we were only dealing with machines then efficiency would be the goal, but there is more to working smarter in education.

(2) Is it going to make us more effective? Education is a people business so efficiency is not enough.  Not only do we need to maximize the use of our minutes, we need to maximize the effectiveness of our outcomes.  We should seek to strike a balance between efficiency and effectiveness.  Too efficient and we lose kids; too effective and we might run out of time at the end of year. 

(3) Is it relevant to our context? This is about fit and whether the “new” that you are thinking of implementing has meaning for you in your context.  Some things work in some places but maybe not everywhere; other things are universally applicable.  The important thing is to ask the question about relevancy and fit.

YES to all 3 and you are ready to implement

YES to 2/3 and you are almost ready, but should consider if one is being sacrificed and whether it is worth it to do so. All 3 may not always be necessary if you know it’s good for kids!

YES to 1/3 and too little has been considered so it’s likely your implementation plan is not well thought out.


Just by asking these three simple questions you will be able to develop an implementation plan that is sustainable.  Whether you want to implement something new in your classroom, school-wide, or throughout the district, these three questions will keep you focused on what really matters.

3 thoughts on “Working Smarter – 3 Questions

  1. I like the “simple” nature of this. Of course, implementing change is anything but simple. Most of the work is in convincing the stakeholders that the change will make them more efficient and effective. Another good post Tom!

    • Thanks for the comment Johnny. Change is definitely easier said than done. I do think the questions help clarify ‘why’ and could potential convince people to take the first step toward change. Thanks for taking the time. Tom.

  2. I completely agree. I was asked to make a video showing how I use my IWB, which was shown at convocation. In the following weeks there was a flood of interest, and resource requests from all around campus asking for IWB’s. After a couple of meetings tying to decide on a standard, and me emphasizing that to take advantage of the IWB that they would need to address how they deliver content, the interest has dried up. I think that they hoped an IWB would magically make their classes more interesting.

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