Now that the school year is coming to an end, have you met your school goals? I’m not talking about your mission or vision statement (though it should be about those). While we should always be heading in the direction of our mission and vision statement (that’s what they’re for after all), we need yearly small incremental steps to be used as checkpoints during the journey. Otherwise, I have found that I can stray from the right direction without realizing it. Reevaluating every 5-10 years with accreditation is not enough.
What about your personal goals? What were your goals for the year? Did you make it? Above is a copy of the goals I have posted on my whiteboard in my office. I can tell you that I easily accomplished my first goal in reading one professional development book a month during the school year. But I did not complete the next two. I still have a couple of weeks to try and visit every classroom, though with the end of year craziness it’ll be tough to complete. I know for a fact there were too many days I was unable to connect with three new students a day and while there are plenty of excuses I could use, ultimately it didn’t happen.
One of the top qualities of a principal as highlighted in the infographic above is that they “Establish clear goals and keeps those goals at the forefront of the school’s attention.”
During my administration internship, I spent most of one summer at Bluffdale Elementary School. As it was a year-round school I was there during their start of school kickoff during the summer. Karen Eagen, the principal did a great job introducing the theme of the year and talking about the book One Word. It was fun to have a principal start the year by talking about the theme for the year and what they were going to do in order to accomplish the vision.
While there are some things done in elementary school that would not work in high school, I think we are too quick to discount all things elementary. I would love to have a principal outline on one of the first days back, this is the goal for this year, this is how it applies to our mission and vision, and this is the support I’m going to provide to make sure it happens.
The summer could be spent with the administration in the building outlining those things and how we are going to implement it. Creating a calendar for the year to show it. Ideally, that same administration team wouldn’t be looking forward just for that year, but projecting out three to five years on what we are going to do and we’re going to do it. That way there is purpose and reason for why we are doing what we are doing.
I have referenced this in the past on this blog and I’m sure I’m going to again in the future because it’s so powerful, but the Knoster Model helps me remember this. In order for there to be success with complex change, there needs to be vision, skills, incentives, resources, and an action plan. As an administration, it is our job to ensure that our teachers have all five.
I haven’t had the experience as an administrator where we meet during the summer and plan out our direction, but I have seen something similar done by my principal when I was a teacher. Carolyn Gough was brought in as Riverton High’s new principal the same year that I was hired there. She presented to the staff Riverton High School’s PLC Action Steps (found below). The timeline was later determined to be five years. We took each action step and focused on it for that year. During the course of the year, we spent time during our PLC Friday morning meetings learning about this. Our professional development throughout each year was focused on those items. The four years I spent at Riverton was instrumental in helping me become the educator that I am today. In fact, I credit Carolyn with making it possible for me to become an administrator and I believe a lot of it stems from her laser-like focus on the school’s goals and purpose.
Carolyn constantly reminded us that changing course at a high school is like turning a cruise ship, it takes time. But with her dedication, it was awesome to see the changes that were taking place. Sometimes it was as little as common vernacular changing with the faculty. Even some of the “resistors” were now using the verbiage we learned.
Have you seen a purposeful direction in your school? What did the administration or teachers do to help it along? What does it look like? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!