It’s that time again. You get a few days away from the office with a long list of things you want to have accomplished by the time students walk back in those doors in January. The following are 15 things to think about.
1. Get away from the office. Enjoy some quiet reflective solitude as spring break begins. You’ve earned it. Reflect on the first 5 months of the school year. Are you feeling like your ship is headed in the right direction? Hit some rough patches? What could you have done differently? What have you learned about yourself and your school?
2. Take your spouse/significant other out to dinner and enjoy some quality time without your mobile device. If you’re a connected principal, you’re probably used to checking your phone for work emails, phone calls or Tweets even at home. It’s time to take a little break. He/she will appreciate it. Take some times to discuss device time and some family-friendly guidelines while you’re out it.
3. Read an unrelated magazine article, book, or anything that takes you away from “job-thoughts.” Watch a movie or go shopping. Find the time to get back to exercising and taking better care of yourself. Some friends around the country are now using Fitbit devices to keep each other motivated.
4. Update your own leadership goals for the year. What have you accomplished? What is your next move? What resources do you need to get there? What will you focus on in 2015?
5. Pull out your staff roster. Go top to bottom. Who have you worked the most with this year. The least? Make some goals for the next trimester of the school year on how you can support your staff members, assistants, cafeteria workers.
6. Arrange a meeting with your office staff. How has the year progressed? Set goals for the new year. Talk to them about “PARTNER” and how you want to take your building to the next level in developing a family-friendly school – Share abbreviated research. Ask them to consider the following mnemonic when helping a parent who has come to the office:
P- Put a smile on your face
R– Recognize ESL or other needs (engage Language Line/interpreter)
T- Talk to them. Engage in conversation that shows them you care about them as people, they’re more than guests.
N- Never be satisfied that you have addressed the needs they walked in with. We can always do more.
E– Engage building resources (principal/guidance/teacher etc) each time the need arises.
R– Revisit reasons for visit and verbally confirm needs were met.
7. Arrange a meeting with your head custodian. Reflect on the school year. Share any feedback from staff and your own personal input. When was the last time you provided the staff type opportunity to complete a quick school cleanliness survey using surveymonkey.com
8. Take a walk around the exterior of the building. How does it look? Check for safety risks while making notes to continue building an inviting campus for your families.
9. Pull out any walkthrough data and observations you’ve done on staff so far. Go down your staff roster once again. Have you missed anyone? Equity matters. Make a plan for the next trimester. Send an email to 5 teachers you observed referring to an observation and include a link to a related resource. Consider moving to a free online walkthrough form.
10. Encourage a colleague to sign up for Twitter
. Search #edchat, #cpchat #ptchat #elemchat. Find new resources and give yourself some new things to try over the last few weeks and during the summer. If they are already on Twitter, join a hashtag chat and Tweet it Forward
– help another educator in the family identify relevance in this amazing global resource and build their “PLN.” Consider using the great Twitter resources of Jerry Blumengarten
or Steven Anderson
or visiting the Learn Twitter
page on this blog.
11. Reflect upon the level of feedback and praise you have provided your staff. Teaching can be a thankless job at times. Have you recognized the people in the trenches each day…the ones who lay it on the line with students and parents and make your school what it is? Send a text or write a note to them with authentic thanks and praise. Start thinking about what you will do for Teacher Appreciation Week
to make this year different.
12. Plan an agenda for the next Home & School Meeting that evidences any changes you’ve made in response to their feedback. Instill in them that you are serious about building partnerships with your families and meeting them where they are. Use research and some proven strategies
13. Does your school truly integrate technology each day in classrooms and overall? Search #edtech and get some ideas together to compliment your curriculum. What traditional components of your school can go digital?
Loudspeaker announcements –>Video stream, Google Docs
Hard copies to all families–>Gmail distribution lists
Write to pen pals?–>Skype around the world #MysterySkype
Traditional phone chain–> Remind
14. Identify student leadership opportunities at your school. You can never have enough opportunities for students to take ownership of their school. Student council members, student bloggers, photographers, environmental club members, academic tutors, guest readers. How about student voice and how this differs from student council or government.
15. Pick up the phone and cold call 20 parents. Solicit feedback on how the year has gone. Thinking bigger? Develop a family engagement survey to help provide information on where your parents feel connected and where you need to differentiate further for them. Here’s one
that is based upon the important work of Karen Mapp.
Take pride in the fact that you are meeting the expectations of one of the most challenging jobs in the world. You are a reflective leader working to build your school into a 21st Century innovative learning community. You’re committed to improving your own leadership and your school from one day to the next. You care about your staff and acknowledge the hard work they put in each day and night. You seek out new resources, make building relationships a priority and are working to be the transparent liaison between home and school.
In a job with so many responsibilities, you’re well aware that there are more than 15 points to write about. I invite your comments and encourage you to add to this list below.