|Want to join us for office hours this month? We’re trying something new…Instead of offering planned content, we’re going to open a virtual space for you to bring questions or ideas to us. Any topic goes. Want advice about summer planning or just want to learn more about ABC? We’d love to see you!
June 7, 2022
4:30 – 5:30 pm
We know it’s been a very long week, in a long few years, and as we inch closer to the end of the school year, the already precious resource of time already feels stretched thin. Students are eager to start summer vacation, and staff looks forward to a well-deserved break after a long year. As a leader, this time of year also brings reflection, goal-setting, and continued planning. Perhaps more than ever, we all need that respite that feels like it’s hiding right around the corner.
However, it’s also important to remember that a thoughtful year-end wrap-up plays a major role in the success of fall planning – the better we can prepare now and set the conditions for a strong start, the more effective our plans will be when we all return. Whether you’re a school or district leader, the tips below will guide you through key steps to reflect on the amazing work from the past year and set yourself up for success when you return in the fall. The equity goal: Collect this information for all staff. Resist the urge to hear only the loudest voices. Engage in activities that enable you to capture a well-rounded snapshot of the year’s good, bad, and in-between.
1. Share the Love…and Gratitude.
One way to honor your team’s incredible work, and provide space for them to do the same, is to engage them in year-end reflection activities to highlight their wins and lessons learned. Celebrating student and staff growth with data is one way to start the conversation about wins. It’s important to remember that the data is for celebration and encourage your team to stay in the space of acknowledgment and celebration (not analysis and planning).
If you’d prefer to take another path, you might consider facilitating a guided exercise for staff to share their reflections and thoughts on some question prompts such as “What was your biggest aha moment this year?” “What is one challenge you overcame?” or “Who has been an incredible support for you this year? Shout them out!” Encourage teachers to truly spend the time to reflect on the year in full and all of the remarkable things they have accomplished both individually and as a team. Practicing gratitude not only improves individual happiness but ending the school year with positive group feelings can promote long-term feelings of social connection and optimism
2. Get intentional with intention setting.
As a leader, it can be challenging to distinguish where one-year ends and another begins, but it’s a necessary pause that can make all the difference. Before you jump too deeply into planning, take some time to set your intentions for the upcoming year. Fast forward to this time next year – What do you want to be true for your students? For your teachers? For your broader school community? Write them down. Get specific. As tempting as it may be to go to numbers, try to stay away from too much data. We like the frame: ‘thinking, feeling and knowing.’ Frame your intentions through that lens, “If the year is a success, by June 2023, what will the different members of your community be thinking/feeling and/or knowing?”
Write it down, make it pretty, and post it in your office. You may even decide to share that with your team during your beginning of the year PD. Intention setting can help you connect on a deeper level with your staff and lay a foundation for staff to take a more proactive role in shaping a positive and purposeful school culture.
3. Collect Classroom Collateral.
Over the course of the year, it’s not only students who have developed work and materials. Teachers’ classroom systems, floor plans, binders for keeping notes and records, and other critical information lives in the classroom spaces that tend to get wiped clean each summer. Get clear about what pieces and processes are valuable to keep and which are not. This one may not be as exciting as gratitude or intention setting, but it is just as essential and will certainly be helpful next year!
In collaboration with your leadership team, create a year-end step-by-step list of operational procedures for teachers. Include instructions for preparing classrooms for the summer, what to do with materials (including how they should be organized), technology return, what it is due when and to whom. Provide guidance for completing and submitting any paperwork and documentation required by your district or other leaders and be sure to have clear processes for following up on anything outstanding before the last day. Communicate early and often to make sure everyone has a seamless closeout to the year and can enjoy their break.
4. Carry Over Student Information.
Teachers learned a lot this year about each of their students – what motivates them, where they struggle, what skills they’re working on, the best points of contact and so much more. Often, that information is lost in the rush to summer. Students with IEPs have a designated place and process for memorializing progress, but even these practices can be limited and not tell the full story of a student’s experience during the year.
We recommend developing a system for collecting and sharing key information about students that will be most helpful to their teachers in the fall. In some schools, this information lives in your student information system (e.g. PowerSchool). Others may have a practice of creating year-end student info cards with key information and progress updates to share with the next teacher. Make time for this practice and remind teachers to stay strengths-based and positive, not just sharing where a child may struggle. It helps to emphasize the value of this information and the impact it can have in easing transitions, guiding future learning opportunities, and setting students and teachers up for success.
5. Take a Break and a Deep Breath.
Yes, that’s it. There will be time enough throughout the summer months for the action planning and goal-setting but it is imperative that as a leader, you take the time to rest, relax, and renew yourself for the year ahead. In order to be the most impactful leader for your school, you have to be the best version of yourself and rest is key. Celebrate yourself, spend time with those you love, and look forward to an amazing year. Congratulations on a job well done!
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