"I want to make this a great place for staff and students." That thought continued to go through my mind as I wrote, but it gave me very little opportunity to put all these initiatives and ideas into an order that made sense. When I finally sat down and looked at the board, I noticed something was missing, ORDER. I created categories that supported my ultimate goal, and then moved ideas to the appropriate category. Little by little, my plan started to come together. As a result, some of my greatest ideas disappeared, while some of my ideas that were a little fuzzy turned into something fantastic. When I made a checklist, I was able to ensure that I turned my grandiose ideas into an intentional plan of action.
The Principal's Summer Excellence Checklist
- When the teachers come back, what is your plan to capture their hearts and engage their minds in believing that all kids can learn?
- How will you create a culture that embraces the strengths that everyone brings to the table and accepts the weaknesses that also come with them?
- What is your plan to build a culture that excites students and staff about learning?
- How will that culture permeate throughout every classroom in your school?
- What are the campus' expectations for instruction in every classroom?
- What professional development will you provide to help teachers develop the skills to meet those expectations?
- How will you leverage collaboration to allow teachers the time to work and learn together to develop the skills within your expectations for instruction?
- What is your plan to monitor those expectations, and how will you respond when expectations for instruction are not being met?
- What is your plan to monitor the learning for every student throughout the school year through the use of assessments?
- What professional development will teachers need to develop formative assessments that will tell you and them if students are learning?
- How will you leverage collaboration to help teachers develop the best assessments for learning?
- How will you collect data in an organized fashion to determine if students are learning or if instruction is meeting the needs of all kids?
- When students are failing to learn, how will the campus, individual staff members, and teams of teachers respond to students in a systematic way?
- What professional development is needed in the area of intervention, and how and when will you provide that?
- How will you use collaboration as a tool for teachers to discuss students that are failing and develop interventions to meet their needs as the first step of the RTI program?
- How will the campus leadership team monitor student progress and develop triggers that will ensure that no child falls through the cracks?
- How will you respond when interventions are not being provided to a student or groups of students?
- When students have mastered a particular skill, what extension opportunities should be offered to them?
- What professional learning will your staff need over extension opportunities such as personalized tasks or #geniushour?
- What competitive activities can students participate in that are academic in nature?
- What clubs or organizations can students participate in where they can extend their learning in deeper and more meaningful ways?
College and Career
- Preparation for college and career begins in kindergarten, so what are your expectations for exposing students to all types of careers and the college pathways to get them there?
- What professional learning and information do teachers need to be exposed to, so they can be equipped with the information to prepare students for college and career?
- How will you monitor if college and career is truly happening on your campus, and how will you respond if it is not?
- How will you ensure that collaboration for teachers is guaranteed for all staff?
- How will you ensure that intervention for students needing additional time and support is built into the school day?
- How will you distribute duties equally to all staff?
- How will you elicit leadership from your teachers and support staff?
- How will you create a leadership team that helps the school improve as a whole?
- In what ways will you develop leadership capacity in your students?
- How will you involve parents and the community in your school?
- How will you update the student code of conduct and ensure that it is communicated to all students and staff?
- What is the system that teachers will use to respond to minor behaviors prior to sending them to the office in a consistent fashion?
- What is the parent communication requirement in everyone's response to inappropriate behavior?
- When a student is sent to the office for misbehavior, what is the communication loop back to the person that referred the student to the office?
- If the teacher does not see a change in behavior, what is the communication that should be expected from the teacher to the administrator?
- How will you gather data on student behavior to determine if the campus is effective in the expectations for and the responses to student behavior?
- How will you promote, support, and celebrate excellent student behavior in a manner that will create a culture that excellent behavior is a great thing to strive for?
- How will you communicate to the staff in a way that keeps them aware of and prepared for all campus events?
- How much advance notice must you give teachers about upcoming events and tasks so they will be prepared? (No last minute emails!!!)
- How and when will you communicate student progress to parents regarding grades, attendance, and behavior?
- How will you leverage social media as a tool to show the great things happening on the campus, and how frequently will you do that?
- How will parents have a venue to express their concerns or frustrations to teachers and administrators in a constructive way, and how will you promote this form of transparency?
- How will teachers and students know that your open-door policy is truly open?
- What will you celebrate in relationship to the expectations listed above?
- How will you celebrate growth of the entire student body?
- How will you spotlight exemplars of excellence in students, staff and teams?
- How frequently will you take time to celebrate publicly?
- What methods will you use to celebrate? (i.e. - Assemblies, parties, treats, social media, announcements, etc.)
- How will you encourage celebrations to come from all members of the community so that it is not perceived as just a "leadership thing"?
There are probably a ton of other things to put on this checklist, but I hope it gives you a starting point to make next year the greatest ever. If nothing else, I hope you find the structure of this post as a reminder to make sure you don't leave out any of the big components that will make your school the greatest it has ever been.