Head over to a gifted department or a state association’s website and look for the “Resources” page. Scroll down the list. Click a few links.
Now ask yourself: Is this information immediately helpful to the teachers using this page? Or does every single teacher who clicks that link have to spend time figuring the page out and whether it’s actually useful?
What Problem Does This Solve?
For example, I often see NAGC’s homepage on the top of many resource lists. Click through. Would any teacher look at that page and say, “Oh this is so helpful! It immediately solves my problem!”
Uh, no. No teacher on the planet has ever looked at NAGC.org and had a problem solved. You’d have to click through multiple menus, explore the whole site, and hope you land on something useful.
So why do so many districts and organizations link to this particular page? A page with no useful information on it.
Absorb Complexity, Pass On Simplicity
Well, because it’s easy! It doesn’t take much thinking. Sure, let’s just link to the national association. But this thinking brings me to one of my favorite axioms for being a good leader:
Good leaders absorb complexity and pass on a simpler problem to the folks they lead.
When a leader links to NAGC’s homepage, it’s simple for them but complex for the many people clicking on the link. Every single one of them has to make sense of the site and figure out what it offers them.
But! If a leader takes the extra step and finds one article that addresses a specific problem and passes that along, then they have absorbed the complexity and passed on simplicity. The teacher who clicks that link will say, “Oh, gosh, this is exactly what I needed! Thanks so much!”
Link To A Specific Page
So, don’t link to NAGC’s homepage, but perhaps link to their list of common traits of gifted student. That could be immediately useful to the right person. Or perhaps their page on how gifted students are identified. Now, yes, this means doing some extra legwork. But that’s how you absorb complexity for your teachers! Now they don’t have to do that work.
Now, I’m not just picking on NAGC.org. If you have a link to just plain Byrdseed.com, consider changing that link to a specific article that will address a common problem your teachers face.
Of course, this idea of absorbing complexity applies to situations beyond your district’s “resources” page.
When I was a new teacher, going to my first conference, my director told me specific sessions to go to. She took the time to browse the catalog and pick out the most useful sessions for my situation. Now that simplified a problem. Newbie Ian (along with every other first-timer) didn’t have to spin his wheels picking from the seventy-zillion, mostly mediocre sessions at the conference. I had a hand-picked lineup of important speakers to see.
Non-Example: The Dreaded Math Program
Ughhhh. When my school district adopted a new math program, the leaders didn’t absorb any complexity. They took the simple way out and just handed us the new program. Our leaders passed all of the complexity onto us, the teachers.
We hated this.
We had to work out all of the (many many) bugs. We had to figure out what the (very very) vague directions meant. Literally thousands of teachers hit the same problems that year because our leaders passed the complexity on to us.
One Hour Spent, A Thousand Earned
If our bosses had spent an hour working through those problems themselves, they would have saved thousands of hours of teachers’ time. This is why leaders must absorb the complexity. One person can save thousands of hours with just one hour’s work. Then they can pass a simpler problem on to their teachers.
When you take a little time to find the specific page that’s really useful on a website, it saves hundreds of teachers those ten minutes.
And, best of all, when you save your teachers’ time and give them simpler problems to deal with, they will love you forever.
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