The end of the school year is rapidly approaching. In like a lion. Out like a rhinoceros–or something like that. A flurry of concerts, projects, examinations and ceremonies. Sporting events, supervision, and piles of paperwork. It feels like the end…or does it?
Because, in nearly the same breath, I can say that the beginning of the school year is rapidly approaching. Time spent reflecting and planning improvements. New programs, building a master schedule, interviews, ordering supplies, writing proposals and giving campus tours. It feels like the beginning.
Beginning. End. You can’t have one, without the other, but in our educational system, the two certainly become entangled. It can be refreshing to look forward to a fresh start and the opportunities that beginning anew present. It can also be frustrating to be pushing forward into the next school year, when the current year has not drawn to a close. Therein lies a challenge for school leaders–teachers, administrators, or anyone else tasked with the education of our children. How do we navigate the “roundabout” that is the convergence of the beginning and end of the school year without losing momentum?
Here are a few suggestions (which are a direct result of my own struggles):
(1) Focus on Kids
It seems unnecessary to point this out, but every decision we make at school should be based upon what is best for students. By keeping kids central in our decision-making process we ensure that we are using time and resources effectively.
(2) Make Reflection a Year-Long Practice
Too often, we wait until the end of the school year, or the beginning of the next, to truly reflect upon our teaching and leadership practices. This needs to be an ongoing practice that results in immediate change. After all, isn’t that what we expect of our students? Blog, collaborate, tweet, communicate, and reflect — without end.
(3) See Opportunities, Not Obstacles
I recently wrote a blog post on this issue: Interruptions, or Opportunities. To summarize, an essential part of our job as educators is to deal with the unexpected. Instead of viewing these situations as obstacles, we need to look at them as opportunities to make a difference.
(4) Respect the Commodity of Time
Our reflective practice should extend to how we use our time. Every moment with students should be viewed as an invaluable resource. We need to make a habit of asking ourselves if we are using our time in a manner that benefits students. End of the year, or beginning of the year, ineffective time management ultimately cheats our students.
As you approach the completion (or the beginning) of your school year, hang on, maintain a sense of purpose and do what is right for kids.