The countdown to the end of the school year has begun! This is the time when things are incredibly hectic for all school administrators who are faced with balancing everyday responsibilities with added tasks such as local and state testing, finalizing next year’s schedules, coordinating meetings with parents, staff, and central office, addressing budgetary needs and promotion ceremonies, to name a few. During this time, it is recommended that you effectively plan ahead to avoid chaos and burn-out. Remember to focus on your end-of-the school year checklists, as it will help with staying organized and will keep you from getting side-tracked. As you are creating your checklists, consider taking a few minutes to conduct an “Educational Garage Sale” (from Shaping Positive School Cultures for the 21st Century (2008) by Dr. Kent D. Peterson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison). You do not necessarily have to complete this activity alone; you may want to complete it with your leadership team during one of your upcoming meetings since your team and you share the leadership, coaching and managerial responsibilities at your school. Grab some sticky notes and begin to write down things that you believe should be placed in each station. (Remember to use one sticky note per item). Once your sticky notes are completed, place them under the five categories (listed below). Next, conduct an informal “Gallery Walk” and then share your reasons regarding your sticky placements with your team. The sharing may lead to thoughtful discussions and considerations of much-needed changes. This simple activity may possibly result in a “decluttered” focus plan to start the school year in the fall. The steps are as follows:
- Decide what in the school should be sorted into the five different categories;
- Consider what you want to keep, store, repair and discard;
- Place aspects of the school in five different stations. The stations are:
- Repair Shop
- Garbage Can
- Toxic Waste Hauler
The stations are defined as follows:
Museum: Place items that have served the school well, but need to be “retired” to a valued place of honor.
Not for Sale: These features of the school are some of the best things going on and are important to keep and celebrate.
Repair Shop: These are aspects of the school that need some repair fine-tuning or improvement.
Garbage Can: These are items that need to be thrown out. They no longer serve for the good of the school.
Toxic Waste Hauler: These are negative, hostile, or toxic aspects of the school that take special handling. These need to be discarded carefully!
Have fun with this activity and best wishes for a strong and successful end of the school year!
~Nancy E. Testa, Ed. D., Edwards Educational Services Consultant