“Constitution Day” was established by Congress in 2004. The legislation establishing it also set forth the requirement for schools. All educational institutions which receive federal funds are required to hold educational programs pertaining to the Constitution on September 17 each year.
When this legislation was passed, communication flowed as it normally does through the chain of command. Memos went from Washington to each state department of education, who in turn sent memos to school systems, who in turn sent memos to principals.
I was a principal at that time. When I received my memo outlining this annual responsibility, I recognized this for what it was–not just something I would need to handle this September, but something I would handle every September. This was a repeating task, one of the hundreds of items to be handed every week, every month, every year. etc. Without hesitation, I created a task in my digital to-do list to “Plan Constitution Day activity,” gave it a start and due date in mid-August, clicked the “Recurrence” button, and clicked “Yearly.” Done!
Would I receive a reminder each year from our central office? My thoughts were, “Who knows and who cares?” I didn’t need someone else reminding me. Nor would I worry whether or not I would remember to comply with this pretty simple, straight-forward requirement. Every year at the appropriate time, a task would automatically appear on my digital to-do list reminding me to make plans.
“How would this same thing be handled other places?” I thought. Would there be someone at the state level taking responsibility each year for reminding school systems of this requirement? Or, would someone at the school system level recognize a responsibility to remind principals each year and follow-through to see that schools were in compliance? In how many cases would principals be left on their own? What about brand new principals? How would someone coming into the principalship be expected to know about this requirement?
Constitution Day provides just one example of a reality which exists not only the principalship, but in any job. There are those tasks which must be done on a regular basis. Our choice is to hope that we remember to do them at the right time, or to develop a system which will handle the remembering for us. Every day, things slip through the cracks not because of lack of ability, but for the lack of a system that handles the large number of responsibilities we have.
Smartphones are becoming ubiquitous. To-do apps which sync with websites provide access to the to-do list from anywhere. Any to-do app worth its salt is going to have a repeating task feature. Staying on top of repeating tasks has never been easier. When a “repeater” presents itself the first time, enter it in the list and set the repeating pattern. You set it and forget it.
How is communication about Constitution Day handled in your school system? Who holds the responsibility for “remembering” to plan activities? Anybody have a really Constitution Day activity you want to share? Did the whole event “slip through the cracks” for anyone?