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The Answers To Your Principal Summer Action Questions

#leadership Jun 27, 2024

I hope you are having a productive and restorative summer. 

As I…we ALL prepare for the upcoming school year, my teammate Lauren and I have been keeping track of where my focus goes in planning and preparation for the upcoming year. 

We wanted to share the top 10 from my list with you. 

If you have yet to get with yourself and your team and ask…

  1. What went well this year?
  2. What needs more focus next year?
  3. What do we need to STOP doing to move forward? (Critical list!)
  4. To accomplish our goals for the 2024-2025 year…what needs to be true about our behavior and actions as a team? As a staff?
  5. Most import: Where do I need to grow as a leader to ensure one year from today we are in a much stronger position?

One of the BEST tools we have and I utilize often is our principal quarterly checklist.I look at it each month, and definitely each quarter to stay responsive to bigger issues. This checklist can be personalized to your school and shared as a team. My teammate Lauren organized the checklist to line up to the 10 Indicators of High Performance, which really allows your team to have a common language and create a culture of accountability and productivity. 

Click here to download the principal quarterly checklist. 

Here is one item for each Indicator I’ve been working on with our team:

  1.  Finalize the “State of the Charter” Annual Report

Complete the annual report to provide a comprehensive overview of the school’s performance. Share this with stakeholders, donors, and community partners to maintain transparency and foster support. Check out our Inner Circle Member, Brevard Academy's State of the Charter for an example.  

  1.  Review and Finalize the Strategic Goals and Strategic Plan

Revisit your organization's strategic plan and finalize the organizational goals for the year. Ensure these goals are aligned with your school’s long-term vision and mission. Remember, a GOAL WITHOUT A STRATEGY IS H+JUST A WISH. If you don't have a strategic plan and/or are not sure where to start, we recommend identifying your school's current reality by each member of the team taking our 10 Indicators of High-Performing Charter School's Assessment. It takes less than 10 minutes and will provide you a high level current view of the school’s performance and where to prioritize your goals, align resources and empower your team for the year. Want us to be a part of your team or need help getting started? (Book a time to talk)

  1.  Manage Enrollment and Student Roster Issues

When I think about an area that seems to take a great deal of time during the year, it's enrollment and data entry. Depending on how your state funds your school, the engagement plan over the summer to the first 20 days of school are critical to your school’s check book, staffing and planning. Monitor daily enrollment and student roster issues, have an internal and external communication plan for your first 20 days of school. Address no-shows, balance classroom sizes, and monitor demographics. Be sure you have the correct student data information to avoid hangups and hold ups with funding and getting kids in the seats! 

Refer to the step by step plan starting on page 7 in our Fully Enrolled Workbook for detailed guidance. LBL's Fully Enrolled Workbook, step-by-step guide to ensure you are fully enrolled on day 1.

  1.  Succession and Orientation Plan for Key Players and Board Members

There is NO SUCCESS without SUCCESSION. Organize orientation sessions for new staff, transitioning staff, new board members and new officers of the board. Orientation can cover everything from the school’s rich history, key decision making, key roles and responsibilities, education plan, current status, and communication channels. Make sure they know vision and goals for the upcoming year and where we left off. Gain clarity on reporting and communication expectations. Get the key meetings on the calendar now. For operations this is the daily stand up, weekly tactical, the quarterly off site. Make sure your professional development schedule is set. For the board, this is your meeting schedule, your committee meetings and any other key rituals and ceremonies as a school. (Board Strategic Outcomes Calendar Example)

Ensure they are well-informed and aligned with the school’s mission so they know they made a great choice and are jogging on day one! LBL's Board Orientation Binder, click here to see what we recommend you should include in your board orientation plan and binder. 

Schedule a review 30, 60 and 90 days from the first day on the job for all NEW staff. Ask them to share what questions they still have and what they wish you covered during orientation. Utilize this information to improve orientation for next year. 

  1.  Facilitate/Plan for the Board's Annual Meeting/Retreat

Organize the annual meeting or retreat to review and verify school goals, outcomes-based calendar, and tangible evidence for progress. This is a crucial step in aligning all stakeholders and setting clear expectations for the year. It does not matter when you have the retreat, but you need to have it. I believe it’s the MOST IMPORTANT meeting of the year. (Watch the first video

LBL can assist you with your board's annual retreat, click here to see the different packages we offer LBL Governance Packages.  

  1.   Prepare In-Service Days and Teacher Workdays

Plan your daily meetings with staff during teacher workdays before the school year starts. Reinforce the school’s core values, mission, and vision to remind everyone why they are here and what we aim to achieve for the 2024-2025 school year. A few reminders:

  1. Build in white space! Time to think and process for yourself, your team and staff.
  2. Build in practice time. Do NOT overload staff with sit and get. Have them do and practice. 
  3. Build recurring sessions in your calendar throughout the year right NOW…it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert. They will not master that NEW curriculum or instructional method based on a three hour workshop in August.

Chapter 4 of my book walks through the keys to building and sustaining a high quality staff. If you do not have my book, here is this chapter as a gift for you <click here>. If it adds value, get a copy of the full book on Amazon. 

  1.  Curriculum and Instruction Needs Assessment Review

By conducting an end-of-year needs assessment you will learn where you need to plan differently for the next year. Identify areas for improvement and ensure that the curriculum and programming is robust and meets the needs of all students. If your school doesn't have a written out, approved and committed education plan, this is a good place to start to ensure everyone is on the same page with what materials, programs, and resources are being used. LBL's Education Playbook Template 

From this template you can really take a look at what’s working. What is bridging a great return? What needs more training? What needs to be scrutinized at a much higher level? You’ll identify gaps and overlaps. I guarantee you’ll save funds and crucial time during the year when you have a clear plan in place. All schools in your areas are equal in terms of their total seat time…but high performing schools are much better at utilizing that time during the day. 

Everything should fight for its life to remain on your academic plan. 

  1.  Enhance Data Collection Processes through Systems and Internal Controls

Data leaves clues. Review and refine data collection processes. What information should be collected and how often should it be reviewed. Establish a consistent schedule, common language and understanding regarding formative and summative data collection to be shared with new and returning staff. This is not just academic data. Your entire school runs on systems and controls. Reviewing your results will let you know which systems and controls are working! A great example is the EOY Due Diligence process that leads up to your fiscal audit. This process is a pain. But when used correctly can lead to significant improvement in your internal processes (Internal Controls). Here is a list of potential data points to consider when reviewing your school’s success. <Click here>

  1.  Align Professional Development with Curriculum and Data

Ensure your professional development plan aligns with curriculum mapping and benchmark assessment data. Involve key staff members in the development and planning process to ensure it meets their needs and helps them achieve their goals. Not sure what training they need or whether they have clarity in their role? Have each member of the non-instructional team complete our Key Result Areas questionnaire. Work through the process and create a personalized plan for each employee. 

  1.  Strengthen Teacher Development Processes

I believe the best way to improve your school’s academic performance is to improve each teacher’s ability to connect, relate, and lead their class. Review the previous year’s teacher development processes, including observation feedback and the mentor program. Enhance plans and documentation to better track and support employee progress on goals. 

One strategy that helped me was the development of a well managed classroom checklist. This list can help you create a vision of daily success and consistent practices in each classroom. 

Looking for a more detailed check-list to keep you on track this summer and throughout the school year? Click here to download our top school leader resources including our principals quarterly checklist and reducing risk checklist. We have taken the guesswork out of it for you!

A few other items I am working on and will share next week:

  • Parent communication
  • Student Attendance
  • Community Engagement and Partnerships

By focusing on these areas, you will set a strong foundation for the upcoming school year. If you have any questions about the included programs in our partnership, resources available or need additional support, please feel free to reach out.

We are here to serve. 

Tom and Lauren

P.S. We will be launching our next 10 Indicators of High Performing Charter Schools book study July 30th. Grab your book on Amazon as well as multiple preparing to opening webinars in mid through late July. I hope you will join us!

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