For students, there are essentially two opening days every year: The first day of school and the first day of summer. In an earlier era, principals and students may have shared similar schedules, but according to a 2008 study by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, more than 70 percent of its members now have an 11 or 12-month contract. Those of you who are currently principals may find yourself envious of your predecessors: A half-century earlier, only 12 percent of principals worked year-round!
We know that a principal’s summer is a bustle of activity that includes anything from planning workshops, scheduling and recruiting to meeting new students and preparing for opening day in the fall. Before you dive into a new, but equally busy summer schedule, we want to offer a few tips to help you wind down the school year.
Winding-Down the Academic Year: 5 Tips for Principals
Send Your Senior Ambassadors on a Mission
Recall the day you crossed the border from middle school into high school. Even if you were one of the lucky ones who adjusted quickly, there was still a learning curve. Since many of your seniors end the academic year earlier than the rest of the school, most of them will be available to meet with future students who are finishing up their final days of middle school. Recruit your senior ambassadors and send them to a partnering middle school where they can speak with the same students who will be walking your hallways in the fall.
Don’t become complacent
When we were kids, often the last week of school was spent watching film strips and hanging out. We loved every minute of it, too. Looking back, of course, it’s easy to see that this was not a productive use of time. There may only be a few days left in the school year, but it’s important to maintain high expectations. Every day is an opportunity to learn. Expect teachers and students to use each day wisely.
Put that data to good use
You’ve spent the year collecting data about academic success, student attendance, college admittance, disciplinary actions, and student/faculty awards for excellence. You may not have reached all of your goals, but certainly your school has succeeded in noteworthy ways. Even if test scores aren’t in, take time to highlight other successes. Thank teachers for their effort and let them know that it paid off—you have the data to prove it.
Give yourself time to reflect
We can’t move forward without looking back. Take time for introspection: What did you learn about yourself this year? Where did you succeed? How have you changed? How have you grown? Reflect on these questions and write down your thoughts.
Introduce new faculty
If you’ve already hired new teachers or staff members, chances are they’ll be around the school throughout the summer, but most students won’t be. Instead of waiting until September, use the last week of school as an opportunity to welcome new teachers and introduce them to your school.