Ever heard a principal say, “we had the best opening we’ve ever had. I just hope we can keep the momentum going…”
Each year while teaching school leadership classes, I’ll ask, “who had a good opening to school?” No matter where we are, the response is consistent: nearly everyone raises their hand with a slight nod and a look of accomplishment. We can usually get school started: but then, how do we keep it going?
The answer can be found in this question: why did the beginning of school go well? With only a little bit of reflection, you can put your finger on it: you had success because you planned for it.
Of course, you never have as much time to plan during the school year as you do before it begins. That said, you don’t have to say goodbye to the act of planning just because the teachers and students have returned.
Here are three ideas to help you keep that “beginning-of-the-year” momentum going all year long!
- Put Planning Times/Dates On Your Calendar Right Now: Your intentions won’t keep the momentum going, but your planning will, and your calendar is the place from which action arises. (To-do lists are where dreams go to die… RIP) If you can schedule a Momentum Meeting with your school inner circle a week from now, would that make a difference? Sure it would. How about another Momentum Meeting two weeks later? Yes. And, these meetings don’t need to be lengthy— but they do need to be very, very FOCUSED. If you go longer than two weeks without developing and working a plan, the kudzu will grow up around you. And you won’t be able to get rid of it. Planning is winning and winning is planning. If you don’t do it, your strategy REALLY IS hope.
- Don’t Forget: What Worked on The First Day of School Can Work on Day 27. And Day 39. And Day 114. Why does the first day work? As mentioned above, because we plan, but a second reason is that the attitudes of the adults are at a high level. We saw lots of high-fives and smiles at schools everywhere at the beginning. (Check out these pics here: https://tinyurl.com/FDOS-2018a ) Why not every day? Of course, it’s not as special if you do it every day, but couldn’t we do some things to make EVERY day a celebration of learning? If we rock it on day one and then fall back into ruts after that, we won’t be keeping the momentum going. It takes planning and intent, something you and your teachers should talk about together.
- You Gotta Believe. There will be others who will not believe that you can sustain a positive, learning-focused, enthusiastic climate throughout the year. As the leader, your will has to be stronger than their disbelief. This phenomena begins with the leader, the person who audaciously believes that every day can be amazing, every student can learn, every teacher can grow, and that, when put together, all of this matters. You have to believe deeply enough to get others to believe. That’s what’s needed of you. Your belief + Every-Other-Week Planning + Positive Climate at your school= Success for Students and Teachers. Don’t get sucked into pettiness, or jealously, or anger. You have to see over the mist and into the horizon and have a picture in your head of the good that is to come, even if others are only seeing the haze of the day. That is the task of the leader, but also leads to your greatest joy. That moment when everyone arrives at that place you’ve been seeing all along.
You can keep the momentum going all year long, and “all year long” begins today! Good planning to you and yours!
© 2018. Dr. Mark Wilson. All Rights Reserved.