The first week of school is a killer for administrators and staff. Mentally, you may still be weeding your vegetable garden or sipping Folgers at 10 am on your front porch. Back in the real world though, class enrollments are shifting and both you and your students are reorienting to the new class year.
Of course, many teachers will arrive refreshed and energized for a new year, but for others—especially new teachers—beginning a new year can be overwhelming and filled with anxiety.
These 10 Tips for Transitioning into the first week of school can help you organize your time and discover a fresh approach this year.
Your Fellow Administrators
- Collaborate Within: Whether you're a tried-and-true veteran team, or you have some new administrators on board, this first week of school is a crucial time for collaborating on the year's goals, where the responsibilities lie, and unifying your front for teachers, students, and parents.
- Reach Out: Administrators often come with decades of experience—which is great. But keep in mind that there’s always room for growth. Reaching out to administrators in your district, and/or nearby districts can foster new ideas and an inspirational support network.
- Honest Communication: As unpleasant as it might seem, you are a leader and leaders need to have open communication with all of their colleagues. Reach out to teachers with whom you butted heads last year and openly express your desire to make peace and to work together this year. Even if they aren't receptive it is always best to take the high road. Or, you could be surprised to find them open and willing to wave the white flag.
- Motivation: This is a new year. It's a fresh start and the students will be best served if the administration and teachers are genuinely motivated and inspired. Don't have ideas of your own? Use the internet to find ideas for motivating teachers.
- Effective Meetings. Few people enjoy meetings, but they are necessary. The key to an effective meeting is, well, running an effective meeting. Get there early, be organized, keep it moving, set time limits for comments/questions, mitigate non-essential chit chat, and have good follow through.
- Names. While it may feel impossible to know every student's name, start working early. Knowing students' names shows you value them. Make a special effort to learn the names of students who struggle, who look sad or alone, or who pick you out of the crowd to talk to.
- Host Lunches. For the first month, try to schedule at least 1-2 days a week during lunch in a different classroom. These should be well publicized and should start the first week of school. Try to get colleagues and/or various clubs to participate as well.
- Reach out. Use social networking, phone calls to the parents of previously troubled students, all the new students, or the involved students can help to set the tone and make parents feel more connected. Do it before "Back to School Night" and make an effort to really boost parent/guardian attendance.
- Back-to-School Night. Speaking of BTSN - make it desirable. How inspiring would it be to get a record turnout? What about getting any adult in a child's life involved? Hosting a BBQ using donated foods? Shake off the BTSN dread and find ways to make it fun for everyone.
Just For You
- Make Time for You. You must be healthy and well rested to be an effective administrator at any time of the year. Don't make excuses not to exercise. If you are a middle or high school administrator - you have a gym right there on campus, or PE classes you can attend. What a great way to get to know students and set an example.
The first week of school will be gone before you know it, but your efforts can set a positive tone for the entire school year.
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