Here’s an experiment for you. Last spring into summer we realized quickly that we needed to look at the second half of the school year a little differently. A lot of our summer work centered around things that we could have worked into our spring (even winter) planning and development. It’s a tough stretch for schools…usually in the winter and spring we all start thinking about the following year already.
This year I swore to myself and made it public knowledge that my goal was to be way ahead of the curve this year and work to provide as much information and planning about the next school year for everyone prior to the end of the current school year. So, to do this, one of the first things we did was to make an overwhelming list. In fact that’s exactly what we called it. Here’s how I approached it:
- During our leadership team meeting I put up charts labeled with the current month all the way through to June (didn’t include summer months…we don’t want to be tempted to put important things here.
- On the tables were post its…everybody had a set period of time to add things to the months…anything that we know is going to be coming up. We all know what kinds of things are on everyone’s minds for the next year (i.e. inservice plans, dates for meetings, curricular decisions, hiring timelines, the annual stuff we have to do that we always wait till August to address). There were two caveats to this exercise at this point that were important:
- Be specific – DON’T put things like “we need to discuss…” No, say what we need to do, who needs to be present and what’s the action
- Be timely – If we need a decision on something by June, put the post it in May…cause that’s when we’ll need to think about it!
- After everyone had time to do this we reviewed and recapped the information so we could clarify sentence fragments and random thoughts, lump alike things together and move things on the timeline if necessary
- Then I compiled the info into a shared doc, creating categories:
- things that need to happen at leadership team or committee meetings
- things that can happen outside of leadership team meetings or committee meetings
- things that are up to central office staff to complete
- and then I had a column for the original list…just to keep it clear
The end result was exactly what we set out to create…an overwhelming list. But here’s the thing…it’s organized. We have a game plan and I refer to it everyday. I also plan to have other stakeholder groups go through this exercise and add to the list.
The end goal is to head into the summer with a feeling of readiness for the next school year.