3 Back-to-School Tips for Administrators
The final bell has rung, students are hugging goodbye to their friends, and teachers are excitedly making plans for their vacation. Summertime is in full swing, and although most educators and students will be spending the next two months relaxing by the pool, school administrators will be using this time to prepare for the upcoming school year.
A new year is an opportunity for a fresh start—it is the perfect time to reflect on years prior, as well as to set new goals for the incoming class such as literacy acceleration. This back-to-school season is particularly meaningful given the difficulties of the past few years. As educators and administrators work hard to make sure that the first day of school sets the tone for the rest of the year, it is important that we set students up for success from the very beginning. To truly build a strong foundation for our students, it is important that we consider what we as staff need to do to prepare ourselves as well. Here is a roundup of top back-to-school tips for administrators and teachers, straight from the source.
Start the year on a positive note: Tips for school administrators
1. Develop and implement a strong communication strategy, starting with back-to-school messaging
Building a rapport with parents and community starts with clear, consistent communication about what is happening in the school or district, how families and individuals can get involved, what resources exist to support all members of the school community, and all the wonderful things happening inside the walls of the school. This communication should come from both administrators and teachers.
Young Educators’ Society of Rhode Island founder Erin Healey recommends creating a class Twitter account to celebrate student achievements, showcase class projects, and allow parents insight into the ideas students are discussing in class. This can be done by utilizing communications personnel or social media-savvy staff and students.
2. Inspire, encourage, and motivate teachers
The past few years haven’t been easy for anyone, and in many ways, teachers have borne the brunt of these difficulties. Amid staffing shortages, the stress of the pandemic, and devastating tragedies like school shootings, teachers have carried a heavy burden and deserve our utmost respect and gratitude. Given everything they’ve been through these past few years, many educators feel less than enthusiastic about the mundanities of the upcoming school year.
A common grievance among teachers is the plethora of lengthy staff meetings discussing site changes, assessment measures, ever-changing COVID protocol, and new initiatives. While these details are extremely important, conversations and meetings at the start of the year can set the tone for future staff participation on key issues.
Award-winning teacher, author, and speaker Pernille Ripp offers some great tips on how to communicate important back-to-school topics to teachers in a motivating manner. She advocates respecting teachers’ work-life balance by only sending emails before 5 p.m., trusting teachers to make their own decisions, and providing opportunities during meetings to praise and uplift each other (to name just three recommendations). A strong collaborative team is essential to a successful school year, and good communication is the way to develop such a team.
3. Find (and stick to) an organizational system that works
An administrator’s job is both time-consuming and time-sensitive, and it comes with a mountain of paperwork and tasks to be completed. Establishing a time management and organizational system at the start of the year is necessary to keep on top of what needs to be done, and to ensure priorities are not lost in the clutter.
Justin Baeder, director of the Principal Center, acknowledged that “when we're overwhelmed with options, we don't pick the best one." He suggested responding to emails the same day you receive them so your inbox doesn’t become overwhelming, setting your weekly schedule before each week begins, and creating a weekly staff newsletter to keep teachers in the know about upcoming events and happenings at school.
Want to learn more about actionable steps school leaders can take to uplift and empower both teachers and students? You don’t need to know all the answers—just the right questions to ask. Learn more with this Education Insight: 4 Key Factors of Effective School Leadership.
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