Last year at this time I penned an article entitled "Summer Is Also for Learning." In it, I presented four strategies to help teachers make the most of their summer vacation.
While school administrators are typically not "off" from school to the same extent as teachers (there is still plenty of planning, ordering, interviewing and the like that occurs over the summer months,) the relaxed days of June, July and August present school leaders with a special opportunity that is unique to this time of year. I like to think of them as a principal's own set of summertime "R's."
- Rest and relax. Without question, the school year can be very demanding. Stressors abound, in the form of instructional oversight, disciplinary matters and staffing and budgetary shortfalls, just to name a few. Principals burn their candles at both ends in order to make it to the finish line. The summer is a time for school leaders to indulge in some much needed and deserved extra rest and relaxation. Ideally, this should include some time away, far from the school and school community. Getting away will you a chance to put school matters out of your mind and recharge.
- Record (your out of office message). In order to get away in earnest, you have to be able to "disconnect," at least at it relates to school business. Set your email and voicemail to away mode, with an out of office message that lets everyone know your summer schedule and limited availability. You're not really on vacation if parents and others can reach you and expect a timely response.
- Review. Summer is a great time to take a step back and reflect upon your professional practice. How did you do this past year in terms of providing strong instructional and organizational leadership? Were you successful in meeting your goals? If not, what stopped you?
- Resolve and revise. Set new goals over the summer. Also be sure to review your personal mission statement and core values. Much can happen in a year, in terms of shaping your direction and principles. Use these months to make new commitments while also revising your existing purpose and value documents.
- Reload. No leader can continually give meaningful guidance and direction without being a lifelong learner. Without question, the field of education moves more rapidly and in a greater number of directions than ever before. Principals must be chief learning officers as well as chief executive officers of their schools and do whatever they can to remain ahead of the learning curve. Summer provides many learning opportunities as well as chances to network and learn from peers.
- Rejoice. As a leader, you have much to be proud of. Over the past year, you guided, directed, cajoled and encouraged others to grow and achieve. Teachers improved in their instruction because of your insight and mentorship. Students learned many new concepts and skills. Other personnel within the building (such as your advancement and development offices) benefited from your guidance, direction and support. By celebrating those successes you will be motivated to achieve even more next year, which is really what school leadership is all about.