June 16, 2019
Contributor: Dr. Kali
5 High Impact Strategies Principals Use to Prepare for the New School Year
Ah, nothing like SUMMER! Teachers and kids are on vacation and the pace slows down! You can finally take a breath. You’ve got the place to yourself, like a lucky dog with the beach to herself! Even though summer provides a slower, more relaxed pace doesn’t mean you can’t work on high impact strategies to get you geared up for the fall.
I’m not talking about all the housekeeping items you have listed on a checklist to work on during the summer. Of course there is data to review, handbooks and policies to update, hiring last-minute teachers and support staff that may have moved on to other jobs, and getting that “Welcome Back” letter together, blah, blah, blah. I’m talking about human and social capital strategies that are high impact and give you the biggest bang for your buck when teachers and students return.
Summer time goal resetting doesn’t mean you add to your already length to-do list, but rather you prioritize them. What activities can you contribute to your goals, school improvement plan, and student success? Maybe you need to hone in on a few things that you want to continue from last year. Or think about what you want to do better. Maybe even combine existing strategies. And what can you let go of?
Below are 5 high impact strategies you can think about over the summer to boost the positive culture in your school and gain brownie points with your staff.
1. Switch Gears: Focus on your Highest Performing Teachers
Most of our time is spent focusing on how we can get our lowest performing teachers up to scale. Frequently, we tend to leave our highest-performing teachers alone, because they know what they’re doing. Why not focus on creating momentum through strategies leveraged by highest impact teachers instead of spinning your wheels and focusing on what the lowest performing teachers are not accomplishing?
For example, start slowly by having teachers visit each other’s classrooms. Or visit other districts that are performing well so your teachers can visit in an objective setting to see what other teachers are doing.
2. Less Office Time, More Non-Evaluative Classroom Visits
Think about spending more time in classrooms as non-evaluative visits than in your office. Being more visible speaks volumes! I find that popping into teacher classrooms in the morning just to wish them a Happy Friday takes a lot of pressure off of them and is greatly appreciated. It makes them feel more human and really helps to build that human and social capital. You may even have an opportunity to have a quick conversation to solve big issues and forgo a big dreaded meeting.
3. Work on Your Listening Skills
Work on your listening skills so you can move from good to great on those areas you want to improve. Be brave about getting instant feedback. Maybe what you thought you needed to focus on requires a preliminary step to get the ball rolling you didn’t perceive. Listen to what other people in the building have to say. The advantage is that you will know what your staff is thinking, allowing you to adjust your path for a more successful outcome.
4. Establish Long-Term Cultural Routines
All your innovative summer ideas don’t need to fizzle after the first month of school. Write out a strategic plan to accompany your new ideas so they become sustainable throughout the year with measurable checkpoints. In addition, create a list of ways to get you back on track if you find you are veering from what you wanted to start at the beginning of the year.
5. It’s a No-Brainer!
Ever feel like you fall short on the simple, little thing like wishing your staff a happy birthday? You know that wishing each and every individual staff member a happy birthday has high human and social capital impacts. So while your sipping your summer coffee, why not have your administrative assistant give you a list of everyone’s birthday so you can fill out cards ahead of time. Put those cards in a shoebox with a sticky note on each card that has a date so you know when to deliver it. Voilà! Done!