There are items whose scarcity makes them beyond valuable. They are referred to as ‘precious.’ Gold. Diamonds. And days with your teachers when students aren’t in school.
The opportunity to work with, to plan with, to professionally learn with your faculty is indeed a precious thing. Although we would benefit from having more of these days, and in having them spread throughout the school year rather than bunched up at the beginning and the end, as the principal you have what you have to work with, and it’s one of your greatest skills, to make things work.
As you look at those precious few days at the conclusion of the year, what will you do to plan for the greatest impact? Here are few things to consider as you prepare for the post-planning days that will be coming in a short while.
- Determine your priorities and goals in your work with the faculty. What is it you hope to accomplish during these days? You should use your data to inform your work. Did you have an increase in student referrals this year? How did you do on attendance? What level of engagement did you reach in your classrooms this year? Are there individual, differentiated needs of your faculty and staff? What celebrations will you plan to conclude the year? How much time will you give them for record-keeping? For moving to a new room? For clean up?
- Get the schedule out to your folks in advance. Teachers always appreciate administrators who are well-organized and good communicators. Let your folks know what to expect. They can plan their days prior to your planning days more effectively if they know what’s coming. As always, when you communicate a schedule in advance, it gives the perception that you’ve got it together, and that gives your teachers more confidence in what you’re doing.
- Neither squander it nor overdo it. As is always the case with learning, it is done best with a willing learner. If you try to get twenty days worth of learning in three days of post-planning, chances are you’ll be disappointed with the results. On the other hand, don’t throw away your shot. You have very few days dedicated to working with your faculty and you don’t want to miss the opportunity. For goodness sakes, don’t give the appearance that you all are just waiting to leave and don’t have anything left to do. If the perception is that these days are not meaningful, then you won’t have much of a chance to get more of them, and you need time to develop your teachers.
- Connect your work in post-planning to your goals for next year. This is why having your plan for the next school year up front is important. Backward design is important in making the most of your time. What will your emphasis be next year? What will your theme be? Is it possible for you to make a direct connect between what you do in post-planning and what will be your work in your pre-planning days in the fall?
- Ensure that you get needed information for your summer work. When everyone else leaves, you’ll be there working! 🙂 Make sure that you have everything you need from everyone before they leave. It is much more difficult to get information after you’ve broken camp for the summer. Make your lists of what you need to complete scheduling and planning for next year, then make sure you get what you need. (IEP information, reading levels, information for summer school, etc…)
- Set the stage for self-study, continued learning during the summer. As you lead the learning during post-planning days, what can you do to encourage self-study for your staff during the summer? It’s always been my belief that teacher’s days off are teacher’s days off, but most of your professionals will want to grow during the summer. With your post-planning learning, can you set the stage for what they may do individually during the summer? Is there a book or books you’d like to recommend? Helping them know now what you’re going to focus on next year can help them discover things over the summer. (PBIS? Engagement? Attendance? STEM or STEAM? This is key: if you wait until the summer to figure out the emphasis/focus for next year, you’ll miss the opportunity to set the stage during post-planning. Get your emphasis together now during March so you can get the most of your start up next fall.
- End your time together on a high note with anticipation of the next phase of the journey when you begin again. What will your final meeting of the year be like? What do you want your teachers thinking about as they end this year? How do you want them to feel? What can you do to design a concluding event/meeting/gathering that honors their work for this year while getting them to anticipate the next part of the journey in the fall? As the leader, you’re responsible for setting the tone. One of your most important occasions to do so is in your final meeting of the year together. Now is the time to be planning that meeting. It takes time to get fireworks and lasers delivered. 🙂