Most school principals get very little time off during the summer, making back to school preparation for administrators a difficult task.
However, making time to reflect, mentally prepare, and plan for a successful new school year is essential. The four meaningful steps below demonstrate that effective back to school preparation for administrators doesn’t have to be time-consuming.
4 Summer Steps to Successful Back to School Preparation for Administrators
1. Reflect on the previous year.
Start by reflecting on the previous school year. Take notes on what worked well and what needs improvement. You might consider factors such as discipline, tardy, and attendance policies, parent involvement, relationships with faculty and between faculty, academic achievement, quality of teaching, test scores, the success of various programs, and any other areas that you prioritize.
Make a list of policies and programs you want to continue throughout the new school year. Then, make a list of problems you want to solve or areas you’d like to improve.
2. Set your goals for the new school year.
Using the information and ideas generated by the above exercise, set your goals for the new school year. For many administrators, a School Improvement Plan (SIP) is required. These goals differ from the SIP because SIPs only cover certain areas, while your personal goals can address any improvements or changes you’d like to make for the new school year.
An effective goal must be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound. Clearly define your goals by making them specific and measurable. Instead of deciding that you’d like to “improve behavior,” set a goal to “reduce discipline referrals by 5%.” Then ask yourself how you will measure your success. How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? It’s also important to set a time frame for accomplishing each goal, giving you a practical sense of urgency.
3. Break your goals into steps and delegate.
Choose a reasonable number of goals to work toward in the first quarter of the school year, preferably 3-5. Then, break each big goal into smaller steps. To get from where you are now to where you’d like to be, what action steps are needed?
Harvard psychologist Amy Cuddy explains that the biggest mistake people make in achieving their goals is focusing only on the outcome and ignoring the process. “A lot of research is showing us that we do better when we focus on incremental change, on little bits of improvement,” Cuddy says. As you achieve each small step, you’ll build motivation to continue working toward your big goal.
Once you’ve planned the steps you’ll take to reach your goals for the new school year, find steps that you can delegate to others. A crucial piece of back to school preparation for administrators is determining what role you and your staff will play in reaching your goals.
4. Think about parents.
Research shows that family engagement in schools increases student achievement, reduces absenteeism, and improves student behavior. Getting parents involved in your school will help you address a variety of common problems and make progress toward many of your goals.
If you’re required to complete a SIP, this is likely one of the areas your improvement plan must address. If not, you should still think about how involved parents are now and how you can increase family engagement this school year. It makes a big difference!
Back to School Preparation for Administrators: Recap
When it comes to planning for back to school, preparation for administrators doesn’t have to be extremely time-consuming. Reflect, set goals, break your goals into steps, delegate some of these steps, and think about how to increase parent engagement.
By following these steps, administrators can make the most of the summer months and set the tone for a successful new school year.