If I had an emoji for how I’m feeling right now at the end of the school year, it’s some combo of the puke face, the head exploding and crying laughing. You wouldn’t think that it’s time already to start planning for the following school year, but it is. That’s how fast the time goes when you’re grinding and living the #principallife.
It’s time to simultaneously think of ourselves and how our school will look next year. The two are inextricably (that’s my big word for the day :-D lol) intertwined.. We need to think of ourselves because our schools are a reflection of our beliefs and vision.
Complete the paperwork.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably already started working on your school improvement plan (SIP) and looking at ways to enhance what you’ve already done this school year. While the SIP is a great place to start and really identify your needs, for me, it also leaves a bit to be desired when it comes to connecting viscerally with what I should be doing for next year. That’s because the SIP is a poor translation of what I feel a school should be. The SIP are the pieces that are put in place that try to encapsulate the feeling. Regardless, the SIP is just one of the things that needs to be completed.
Meet with the Superintendent
This should be an additional meeting outside of your year end review. The scheduled meeting doesn’t need to be longer than about ½ hour. The twist here is this meeting isn’t necessarily about you. Ask the superintendent what her/his goals and visions are for the district and your school in particular. As you listen think of ways your own ideas fall in line with that larger vision. In doing so if you have an “ask” you can frame it in a way that supports the district’s overall direction. This is also the perfect time to ask what she believes it takes for a school like yours to be successful. By eliciting a response to this question you can tailor your goals to fall in line with hers. By doing this you can create a bond where your success is tied to hers.
Speaking of goals, your School Improvement Plan for the following year has goals written into it. Take those goals and rewrite them in common everyday language that actually means something to you. The following is an example of SIP goal setting language:
“All students will apply various reading strategies to comprehend, analyze, interpret, and evaluate text.”
We aren’t in a classroom teaching the reading strategies so our impact comes from ensuring that teachers are instructing students in the various strategies. A goal for us based off the SIP goal could be something like this:
“I’ll monitor ELA teacher’s lesson plans weekly with a focus on identifying reading strategies being taught.”
This goal is measurable and it impacts the overall SIP goal. A goal written like this is something that you’ll remember.
This is an important foundational piece for the upcoming school year. Set up a schedule where you can meet with a cross section of students that will return. Talk with them about their experience. Find out from them the things that worked and those that didn’t. Take notes and find the common thread. If you have planning time where your staff is preparing for the following year give students opportunities to give their input. Give them ownership. The more students that buy in the smoother the first few weeks of school will go.
Yes, another one. This one is specifically planned to create buy-in for the following year. During my meeting I created the following categories:
What did we do well
What needs a tweak
One thing +/-
One thing +/- was one thing you absolutely thought we should keep or one thing you think we should absolutely get rid of.
Staff took stickies, filled them out and placed them under individual categories of need a tweak and One Thing +/-. . Once they were done we did a gallery walk. It’s purpose was to put a check mark next to just one of the items of each category. Once that part was done I cleared out the sticky notes that had no checks and then grouped the remaining stickies into thematic groups. Those groups are what we will work on as we continue to move into next year.
This particular staff meeting is important because it gives everyone a chance to have a voice. The selection of the most important ideas on the stickies creates an “idea meritocracy” (a term I first heard in Ray Dalio’s book Principles) where the best ideas get the team’s collective attention.
The end is coming and it’s already time to turn our gaze towards the future. These five tips will help us set up for success in 2018-19.
That’s it for now. Share your practices in the comment section below. If you found this entertaining, educational or cause for reflection please follow me and click share so your friends and colleagues can benefit as well.
For more short articles and tips that support educational leaders check out my blog at the www.howtobeagreatprincpal.com and/or order my newest book How To Be A Great Principal: 36 Shared Leadership Success Strategies. You can also get a monthly email that delivers the most valuable blogs as voted by readers by joining the Principals’ Prep Minute. You can register right on the website.
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I'm a Principal and an Entrepreneur. I'm the former owner of a food venture Hustling Hoagies, the author of the children's picture books Detective Dwayne Drake and the Alphabet Thief, Detective Dwayne Drake and The Case of the Mathematical Misfit and the ebook Making it as a Male Model in Michigan. I've worked professionally as a model and commercial actor......