From March to May? That’s a big time in the life of a school and an important time for the principal. Here are a few of the reasons why:
- The last segment of the school year will be the one that will be remembered going forward into the summer, into the next school year, and beyond;
- Students should be doing their best work of the year given the foundation they’ve had so far;
- You’ll have more visitors at your school in the coming days than you’ve had the rest of the year;
- Awards programs, banquets, graduations, dances;
- Exams, statewide testing, capstone events;
- Transitioning students and teachers, both in and out of your school.
As the school’s leader, you’ve already been busy throughout the year. Now you’re about to be really busy. What I think happens is that the volume of work increases at the same rate (or more) as the time you have to devote to the work decreases. You’ve been surviving by getting things done at night and on the weekends (not a sustainable strategy, but most likely one you’ve been doing to some degree). Now that you have a school-related event nearly every night and lots of spring activities on the weekends, your potential work time has decreased.
Simultaneously, the list of things that have to be completed before the year concludes just got much longer. Deadlines loom. You have to complete all of the observations, so you can complete all of the summative evaluation meetings, so you can develop all of the growth plans, so you can design what happens this summer. Lots happening at one time.
Here are a few “March to May” reminders:
- Get ahead of your calendar. If you haven’t done so already, be comprehensive in laying out your plans for the next few weeks. You have a lot of events to attend, but additionally there are other things you need to accomplish before the year ends. Here’s a sample (year-long) list that Chris Froggatt of Lumpkin County Middle School uses and has shared: tinyurl.com/Froggatt17
- Develop your task list. If you’re a new principal, now is the time for you to talk to your mentor principal to make sure you’re including all of things you need to have on your “principal’s” year-end list. Now is the time to develop the list of things you need to do and the list of things you need from other people before they break for summer.
- Choose the mood. You have a lot of influence in deciding how this is all going to go down for the next few weeks. You’re sort of like the DJ, creating the mood with the music you play. Your “music” is your attitude, your energy, your approach. Briefly stated, if you are in a panic for the next couple of months, chances are your people will follow suit and be stressed. If you bring an air of excitement to what’s going on, it’ll be contagious. As they say, you’ll reap what you sow.
- Be where your feet are. One of the hardest plateaus to achieve as a leader: keep your mind where your feet may be. Because of all of the things you have to accomplish, it’s easy to be present without being present. People notice that and it’s not a good look. Slow it down when you’re with other people. It will be some of the last meaningful time you’ll spend with those who’ll be transitioning from your school after this year ends. Make your time matter. Don’t miss the moment thinking about the next moment.