Can you believe it’s that time of year again? Soon, teachers everywhere will head back to school for the week known as “pre-planning.” Teachers set up classrooms, write lesson plans, and get ready for students to arrive. But that doesn’t mean school leaders are off the hook. Pre-planning tasks for principals are equally important.
In this article, we’ll share five steps you can take to get the school year off to a successful and inspired start.
1. Give teachers the gift of time.
While there should be some structure to your pre-planning week, don’t overfill the schedule.
Pre-planning is an important time for teachers to collaborate with their colleagues, get their classrooms in order, and (of course) plan. Before you know it, students will crowd into hallways and desks. Your teachers need to feel organized and mentally prepared.
No matter what goes on the schedule, prioritize giving teachers a few hours in their classrooms each day.
2. Create a positive atmosphere.
Think about what you want the school to “feel” like when students arrive. Words like: warm, welcoming, energized, and positive probably come to mind.
Now, create the same atmosphere for your teachers during pre-planning. Create the right atmosphere and the right energy, and it will likely continue into the following week when students return.
Some schools literally roll out the red carpet as teachers arrive. You don’t have to take it that far, but remember that your teachers are your stars and your key to success. Greet them at the entrance with fist bumps, high fives, and a big smile.
Mingle with your teachers, ask them about their summers, and stop by their classrooms with words of encouragement. Create a feeling of excitement about the year ahead.
3. Ask the right questions.
Getting to know your teachers and building relationships with them is essential.
First, connection fosters cooperation and willingness. When teachers feel a sense of belonging, they’re more likely to buy in to school initiatives, make positive contributions to school culture, perform effectively, and stick around. Additionally, knowing your staff helps you better support them.
Have teachers fill out a quick, simple questionnaire with questions like:
- How do you feel about last school year? What would you like to change, and what would you like to stay the same?
- What are your goals for this school year? Your expectations?
- How can I better support you this year?
- What is one of your strengths and one of your weaknesses?
- Are there any issues at school that we can proactively address this year (with procedures, culture, discipline, etc.)?
These questions show teachers that you value their opinions and care about helping them succeed. They also give you useful insight, and they encourage a culture of reflection that helps everyone grow.
4. Define your focus for the year.
When it comes to pre-planning tasks for principals, you can’t forget to define your focus for the year. Great leaders know how to get everyone on the same page, enthusiastically working toward a common goal.
In schools, this can be a challenge. After all, there is so much you’d like to accomplish. Pre-planning is the perfect time to define one or two key initiatives and priorities for the year ahead.
Ideally, you received some feedback from teachers at the end of last year that helped shape your focus. If not, find another way to bring teachers on board.
Ask for their ideas about how to make the new initiatives a success. Have them brainstorm with their grade level or subject area, then share with the group.
Talk about the positive impact your initiatives will have on the school and students. Instead of forcing ideas on your staff, seek their willingness to commit.
5. Give your new teachers an extra helping hand.
All teachers need your support and encouragement. Still, new teachers will need an extra boost.
Arrange for each new teacher to have an experienced, effective mentor teacher. They should also have a person on the administrative staff who will help them get acclimated. Whether it’s you or another administrator, someone should give the new teacher a tour and a rundown on the basics. A new teacher handbook is especially helpful.
Pop in to each new teacher’s classroom a couple times daily during pre-planning. Ask them how it’s going and if there’s anything you can do to help them feel comfortable and supported.
During the first few weeks of school, new teachers may have a lot of questions. You don’t want them to be afraid to ask or to seek help when they need it. Remember that the more you support your teachers, the better they’ll be able to support your students.
Final Thoughts: Pre-Planning Tasks for Principals
The day before pre-planning, take some time to relax and decompress. Get excited and energized for the new school year. The next morning, you’ll be ready to welcome your teachers with a big smile and a burst of positive energy.
Then, take care of our five pre-planning tasks for principals. Remember to give your teachers time on their own, create a positive atmosphere, and provide a reflective questionnaire.
Define your focus for the year and get your team on board. Finally, don’t forget to help new teachers feel welcome and supported.
By completing these tasks, you’ll smoothly launch the new school year on a trajectory for success.
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