Summer may be downtime for many—with long vacations and a good book on the beach or at the pool.
But for principals, it’s the ideal time to make sure that the school year ahead is better than the one that just ended.
That’s according to two St. Louis-area principals, Howard E. Fields, from the Webster Grove district, and Kevin Grawer, from the Maplewood-Richmond Heights district. They offered their checklist of how to prepare over summer to principals at the National Principals Conference earlier this month in Chicago.
Here are four areas that principals can focus on, according to Fields and Grawer.
Review school data (June)
After the final day of classes, review school data (including attendance, discipline, the performance of different student groups, state accountability, and student, parent and staff surveys) with the school team. The type of data you focus on may vary depending on your school level—elementary versus secondary—and the goals the school had set for the school year. What goals were not accomplished? Where were your deficiencies? Where do you need to grow? What are you going to do differently the next year? How are different students groups doing?
Meet one-on-one with teachers. Assign tasks to each staff member for the summer, and check in on the progress during the summer.
Rest (late June/early July)
Take some time to relax. Maybe it’s a cruise or a road trip, but take some time off from work. You can’t take care of your staff and students if you don’t take care of yourself.
Learn (all summer long)
Read at least one general leadership book, another that’s aligned to the school’s goals or areas of focus, and one for fun. Visit other schools or sites that are trying new programs. Attend conferences for learning and professional development.
Find and meet with colleagues who you admire and others in your professional network to review best practices and share ideas.
Encourage your staff to spend some time learning and improving during summer. Grawer, for example, asked his school district for an extra $15,000 to compensate teachers to rewrite a part of their curriculum in the summer. And he asks staff members about their summer plans for both learning and for fun, and he publishes the list.
Create a plan for the next school year (July and August)
Plan and schedule meetings, including faculty meetings, staff retreats, and professional-development sessions, for the next academic year during the summer and plan those meetings around the school’s goals.
Set student goals for the new school year. Assign readings to the staff related to student goals for the upcoming school year. Assign administrative and staff duties for the new school year.
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.