When the twelfth of the month rolls around I always find myself wondering what is on the mind of other administrators right now. Does my little corner of the world reflect their reality? I have always found May and June to be one of the most difficult times of year from an administrative perspective. That is because I have my feet firmly planted in two realities. First is the immediate reality including final staff evaluations, graduation, final exams and all of the paper work that the end of each year brings. The other is a future but no less immediate reality, that is all of the planning and work that takes place to set budgets, staff, calendar, schedules and curriculum for the next school year. Sometimes I long to be back in the classroom with its definite endings and beginnings. There was something wonderful about the cyclical cleaning and closing of your room in June and then returning after summer to open your room and prepare for a new year. How can I bring that same mentality to my work which never seems to end?
It seems that this is good time of year to take personal stock of our work. It is time to really talk with our administrative teams and to be willing to let go of some of those “great ideas” and refocus our priorities. Many of us are visionaries and idea people who always are forging ahead to the point that we are exhausted and may not be making the progress we want with what is truly important. So I propose that we join our teachers in the ritual of closing down the school year by taking stock of our office and jettisoning the bottom 20%... the things that are good ideas but not great or critical. Drop those projects and ideas that would be “nice” to do some day. Will Richardson recently called for schools to have Chief Learning Officers. Perhaps that should help us define what we set as priorities. Will this project, this task improve our learning community? Will it facilitate or support excellence in teaching and learning?
So I challenge you to join your teachers by marking on your calendar that day they are closing their classrooms as your day to figuratively close this year in your office. Empty your inbox, re-do your files, clean out your drawers and re-evaluate your priorities and set a new agenda that will carry you into the 2009-2010 school year with fresh perspective and hope.
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