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5 Reasons to Focus on Being 10 Percent Better and Grateful Every Week


As educational leaders, every step toward change can feel like a heavy lift. The stakeholders are many: educators, students, families, community, and board members. Buy-in from each constituency is required for improvement strategies to have impact, but which improvement strategy should you focus on with each precious interaction? There is never enough time.

If you want change, you have to focus on what will make whatever you or anyone else in your organization is working on 10 percent better. 

Over time, the returns are exponential, but in the immediate term, this simple technique makes immediate improvement doable.

How It Works

  • Use a notebook or spreadsheet to track your reflections. (I use Google Sheets, but Excel works too.)
  • Schedule 30 minutes once a week to reflect on two or three things you accomplished.
  • Ask yourself what would make them 10 percent better next week.
  • Send two thoughtfully composed and specific thank-you notes to people in your organization. Short is fine. Specific is critical.

My Spreadsheet

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 Download this spreadsheet! >> 

Taking Action

Each week, I take this time to reflect and schedule my action steps. I send emails and calendar invites, so these are not just passing ideas, but commitments to improvements that I have prioritized.

Why be grateful? Because your team is awesome, and you should let them know that. The work we do is hard, but as educators we know the life-changing impact of a genuine kind word. 

At ThinkCERCA, this dedicated time of reflection is on every team member’s calendar. Here are five reasons why:

  1. Every member of the team is reflecting intentionally each week on how to make their work and the organization better. Not annually, quarterly, or monthly, but weekly.
  2. A 10 percent improvement is manageable and actionable in the immediate term.
  3. If on an experience scale 1 is miserable and 10 is amazing, how long would it take your team to get from 1 to creating an amazing experience within your organization? 6 months! 
  4. You will see within a month where your organization is moving or stuck and prioritize your time around getting things unstuck. The stuck leaders will know what you are prioritizing and have an opportunity to get things moving.
  5. Documentation is in front of you, showing where your leadership and the leadership of others is working or not. 

This works well for every member of your organization (including students!) and gives those closest to the problems ownership over solving them.

Like everything else in an educational organization, put it in the calendar if you value it.


Download Eileen's 10 Percent Better Sheet

Enter your email address to download Eileen's spreadsheet in an Excel document.

Eileen Murphy
Eileen Murphy

Eileen taught English for 15 years and was the founding English Department Chair at Walter Payton College Prep as well as the author of 360 Degrees of Text (NCTE, 2011).

As the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for over 100 of Chicago’s highest performing schools, Eileen became passionate about the role technology could play in education in the 21st century and left CPS in 2012 to develop ThinkCERCA to help all students achieve career and college readiness. ThinkCERCA is one of the top Literacy Courseware Challenge winners (Gates Foundation).