PMP:067 Wrapping Up Your School Year—Planning for Summer Break

Occasionally my wife will remind me when it’s been awhile since I’ve cleaned out my closet.

Photo by cobalt123 – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License
So I’ll take time to sort out what I don’t need anymore. I can easily fill a couple of trash bags with items to donate to the local Goodwill store.

Summer break is a great time to “clean the closets” of our schools. I’m not talking about literal closets (which can also be helpful), but I’m talking about issues, priorities, goals, and conversations that have been neglected as you have been finishing a school year.

We just finished another school year at my high school. We wrapped up curriculum standards, graduated seniors and hired new teachers for next year. Many people ask me what I do with my summer break. The short answer is: I prepare for next school year. I often tell others that leading a school is like landing a cruise ship. When you finish one tour, you spend the break restocking for the next launch.

I’m also on a twelve-month contract so when students and teachers check out, my office staff, counselors, and admin team stay on for another ten days to close out school, submit reports, and prepare report cards. After those ten days, we adjust our office hours to one staff person in the office half days Monday-Thursdays and offices closed on Fridays. I will be at school off and on throughout the summer to finish up items on our list of to-do’s, but I will also take some time to travel with my family for vacation.

End of School Year To Do’s

One of the ways we manage the many tasks for closing out the year and starting the next is by creating a shared Google Doc that I compile with my office staff team.

If you want to create one for your team, here are three quick tips:

1. Brainstorm a list of all the to-do’s after teacher checkout, including filing final reports, closing out the books, setting next year’s budget priorities, or mailing report cards.

2. Put your list in a shared Google Doc and share it with your office team. We have a list of approximately forty items that need management as we close out the year.

3. As you complete tasks or reports, mark them off the list. For example, I had ten teacher openings for the new school year. All of them have been filled. So I can happily mark that off my list.

Here’s a sample if you want to see a sample of the list we use:

2017 Summer To-Do’s

Discipline Stats for Special Ed 26-May
Title IV Annual Incidents/SDE report 26-May
Hiring Positions Immediate
Master Schedule Immediate
Attendance/Discipline/4th Quarter/Full Year 26-May
Advanced Coursework Report SDE 26-May
Credit Checks 26-May
Summer vacation schedules 26-May
SMART Report SDE–check exit codes 2-Jun
Debt List Letters w/ Report Cards 2-Jun
Report Card Parent Letters 2-Jun
Report Cards 2-Jun
Senior Packets 2-Jun
Summer office Hours Posted 6-Jun
District Student Needs Assessment SDE) 2-Jun
Student Handbook final draft  for printing 12-Jun
TLE Qualitative Report SDE 12-Jun
High School General Budge & Supplemental Textbooks 12-Jun
Dropout Report 3rd Quarter 1-Jul
Summer P.O. Orders after July 1 P.O. approvals July 1-15
Emergency Drill Booklets 29-Jul
Extra Duty Assignments 29-Jul
Teacher Handbook w/updates 29-Jul
Duty Rosters 3-Aug
KRA updates for Office Staff 3-Aug
Staff Directory Updates 3-Aug
Teacher evaluation scheduled
(divided by principal including checking maps)
Site Improvement Plans 31-Aug
Summer School Report


Goal Setting & Debriefing

As you wrap up the school year, another priority is revisiting goals. This year I scheduled an entire day of debriefing and goal setting with my assistant principals. If you decide to do something like this with your team, I suggest using a shared Google Doc. We first listed out ideas under the following categories:

  • Celebration Items
  • Concerns Items
  • Parking Lot Items

Under each item, we created lists and prioritized what we could cover as well as what would be put on the shelf until the next opportunity for deep discussion.

If you want to lead a goal-setting conversation, consider the steps we followed:

1. Begin by reading an article together. We chose one on best practices that have the most influence on student growth. You could do the same with a TedTalk video clip, podcast episode, or blog post. We chose What Works In Education, Hattie’s List of Greatest Effect Sizes by Grant Wiggins.

2. With the items of concern, address each one with discussion, feedback, brainstorming, and then create action steps.

3. Assign tasks within the action steps to the persons who will take the lead so you have good follow-up.

During our goal setting time, we also went back through the Key Responsibility Lists of our Office Staff team members and reassigned some duties for the upcoming school year. Of course, we also enjoyed a great lunch together.

Goal setting for a day can provide you with much needed time to “clean out your closets” and think ahead for next school year now.

A Glimpse At My Summer Schedule

My office staff returns ten days before school begins to begin preparing for the launch of the new semester. In addition to the normal summer practices of school leadership, I will also be traveling to some conferences this summer to present or keynote with other school leaders.

Here’s a glimpse of my summer speaking schedule:
• June 14, 2017, TASSP Summer Conference, Austin, Texas: Distinguished Speaker Presentation for School Leaders
• June 22, 2017, Growing Leaders National Leadership Conference, Atlanta, Georgia: 8 Hats–Essential Roles for School Executives Presentation
• July 11, 2017, Okaloosa County School Administrators Conference, Ft. Walton Beach, FL: FASA Keynote Speaker
• August 1-2, 2017 Berkeley County Schools Leadership Conference, Martinsburg, West Virginia: 8 Hats Keynote

Summer Release: My New Book, Messaging Matters

Finally, I’m thrilled to announce the release of my new book, Messaging Matters: How School Leaders Can Inspire Teachers, Motivate Students, and Reach Communities. This book is a compilation of research, practices, and technology tools that can help you understand your role as the chief communicator for your school or organization.

Do you want to learn ways to utilize the role you play in promoting, highlighting, and celebrating the successes of your school? As a school leader, it is your responsibility to positively influence the messages the school community consistently receives. I’m so excited to share insights and lessons on how you maximize your message and create raving fans for the great happenings in your school. Check out the book here if you want to pre-order for the August launch!

Let’s Wrap It Up

Ending a school year can often be one of the busiest times of the school year. But it also a time when you can maximize your time away from students to finish tasks and set goals for the coming school year. It’s also a great time to reflect on the past school year. So take time to share tasks, complete final goals, and cultivate goal setting for the coming year. Also, take time to keep growing both professionally and personally.

Now It’s Your Turn

What are steps you are taking to finish your tasks in wrapping up a school year? How can you keep lines of communication strong with your team members as you are closing out the school year and moving toward a new one?

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker