TregoED Blog

Get Your Priorities Straight Using a Little SUG

List of priorities

In today’s world, school leaders have critical, complex priorities that are constantly shifting. Getting your priorities straight is easier said than done when the world around you is in constant flux.  Just looking at the first hour of the average school day this year, we find leaders dealing with a multitude of tasks caused by the onslaught of attendance issues, both student and staff, brought on by Covid 19.  These issues are just the beginning of a long day, week, month, year that includes everyday anomalies as well as the everyday work that needs to be done to ensure a healthy, safe, equitable, education for the children in your care.

Start the day with some SUG

How do you quickly sort through and prioritize these daily issues? Organizing tasks using the parameters of Seriousness, Urgency and Growth (SUG) can give you a consistent and easily shared and understood framework to begin each day.  Building a chart around the issues and these three parameters can make your work visible and help you easily determine what needs to be done, by whom and by when.

Using simple questions can help you score each area with a high, medium, or low:

Seriousness:  Does this issue have an adverse effect on people, safety, money, or legal compliance?

Urgency:  Does this issue have a timeline, due date, natural sequence that would put it in front of other issues?

Growth:  If you do nothing about this issue, will the effects get compounded?

A typical morning chart might look like this:


Issue Serious Urgent Growth
Mr H absent- no sub


H- 5 classes to cover M – no class period 1 L
Aide #1 is out H – safety of children getting off bus and parent traffic H – they have bus

duty for student Arrival

M – Slowing the entry   of the children can   affect period 1

Positive covid tests in room 5 reported overnight


M- Nurse needs to notify all students/teacher


M- cannot do this until  nurse arrives and facts gathered


H – people will be   upset if not notified in   timely manner


Due to accident on highway, Lunch delivery truck will be late


M – may have to adjust lunch



M- lunch does not   begin until 11am


L- over time, this issue may resolve itself


Note, that all issues are important and crucial to the smooth operation of the school.  The absence of the Aide may not intuitively rise to the top of the issues, but using SUG helps you clearly identify issues that need to be immediately addressed- in this case, getting a replacement for the aide in the parking lot seems like the first order of business.  Doing this work collaboratively with a team each morning can help ensure that all issues and perspectives are considered, and it also help in delegating responsibilities/action items and/or enlisting help to ensure your day gets off to a good start.  Having a strategy like SUG from the SCAN Process in place also familiarizes your team with a systematic way to think about other more complex problems ahead.