Earlier today, I was spending time with some wonderful administrators. I asked them what they have been spending their time on recently. Testing! Evaluations! Student behavior! Teachers Leaving! Hiring Teachers!
There’s not a way to eliminate the ever-increasing number of tasks that are specific to this time of year. They are a part of the calendar and happen to occur either simultaneously or in quick succession.
At this time of year, we have the intersection of many things. The current year’s conclusion. Planning for the next year. Lots of things that require time, details, and accuracy. Not the time for an uptick of instances of student misbehavior.
All of these tasks can be pretty overwhelming for the assistant principal and principal. Still, you need to continue to lead your team on a journey to success. What is your strategy to combat the distractions that this time of year bring to your teachers and students?
It is critical to keep everyone focused on engaging instruction each and every day, each and every class period. It’s when we are distracted from the essential work of the school that we get sidetracked and it can be difficult to resume progress. Better to stay on target than have to fix it later.
That said, how do you keep everyone focused? As the leader, you have to continue to put the spotlight where you want everyone to look. If you spend all of your time talking about other things, they will seem to be your focus. If you continue to talk about what goes in the classroom, focusing on instruction, engagement, assessment, and growth, it will be what your teachers (and in turn your students) focus on as well.
There are several things you can do to help keep the focus where it ought to be:
- Be Relentless: If you let up, you’ll lose your momentum. You have to keep the emphasis on instruction going on. Observe classes. Deliver feedback. Schedule conversations with your teachers. Don’t let up.
- Recognize Good Classroom Work Take time to recognize the good that is going on. Share it publicly: announcements, Twitter, Facebook, email. Any or all of those. Spend time to acknowledge effort and recognize excellence. Get it out there! If people see you lifting up the work of others they may follow the trend.
- Generate Daily Conversation You can do this by sending emails to your staff, or communicating with them via Google Docs or other electronic methods. You can share questions for your teachers to discuss at their PLC or Grade-Level Meetings. Get people talking about instruction and you will be norming your building to performing well.
- Provide Redirects Where Needed Now is the time for classrooms to be more engaging,not less. Teachers have had all year to learn strategies from each other that can make the work in their room more engaging. If people aren’t part of the solution, then they’re part of the problem. Recognize the difference and help those who aren’t doing well but letting them know. Redirect them to successful approaches.
- Stay Focused Yourself. As the leader goes, so goes the rest of the team. If you are in the present, focusing on your teachers and students and their needs, you will be setting the example that’s needed to keep everyone moving forward. If you give the impression that you’re off track, don’t be surprised to see your people follow suit.
Focus. It’s the fix to most of your fixes. It’s what you need to finish the year strongly.