Principal Interest

Braking the tyranny of the inbox


As a school principal, communicating effectively and maintaining a presence in classrooms are both vital parts of the role. You can’t ignore either. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to tumble into the email abyss. Some parts of your day are planned, many are not. In between the unforeseen incidents, accidents and excitements there are corridors of time where a choice is offered – the classroom or the email. With hundreds of emails pouring in everyday, the classroom can easily become the casualty.

Sailors of old spoke of the tyranny of distance, the unrelenting passage of time as the endless journey stretches out before you, helpless – no matter how far you travel, the end seems no nearer. These sailors of old would have understood a full inbox.

I need at least 60-90 minutes per day to clear my inbox, responding to pressing requests, urgent matters and sending my own contributions to our collective inbox-quandary. I had been finding that only one such block was presenting itself each day, so I have taken my laptop into the classroom to tackle the email, rotating each day. I work quite a lot at the kitchen table at home and it feels just like this. It has been allowing me to connect more to the classroom for greater periods of time and has freed my office up as a collaborative planning space. The best thing, however, has been the chance to chat with students during the journey. This has finally broken the tyranny of my inbox.