The summer is a time for rest, reflection, and relaxation…but for most of us, it can also be a time when we recharge and gear up for the following year! My halls are as empty as my calendar which allows me some time to stay on top of my game and prepare for the upcoming year. There isn’t a lot of time, especially in the spring, for new ideas, downtime, or the freedom to collaborate with colleagues. I love these few months in the summer where I can be intentional about plans and ideas moving forward.
What went well? What worked? What ALMOST worked? What was disastrous? In a simple spiral notebook,I jot down little “reminders” for things from each month as they happen. Everything from “get more change on muffins with mom day” to “we need additional staff to help with picture lines during class pictures”. I just write down what I need to keep in mind moving forward. I read through these in the calm of the summer and make notes in my planner to address in a timely manner. It allows me time to think through potential solutions, plan accordingly, and gives clarity outside the heat of the moment.
Another way I reflect during this downtime is by reviewing our campus data and the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year. Where were our areas of struggle? Who showed growth and where? I take the time to send postcards to our team members with something positive from their year. This downtime of reflection also allows me to think and make plans for professional development for back to school based on our campus needs/strengths.
Mrs. Rowell grew her readers 28% more than the district average? Wow! She should do a breakout session on guided reading for our primary teams!
Eeeek! We were 10 points lower than the state on this basic addition TEKS…I need to find something to offer that supports numeracy and fact automaticity!
When everything is in isolation and at a quicker pace throughout the year, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees.
Whether you choose asynchronous or synchronous collaboration, the summer is an excellent opportunity to reconnect with your professional peers. Read tweets. Read blogs. Follow hashtags on Instagram. (#teachersfollowteachers, #principalsinaction, #momsasprincipals) I’ve found so many creative & clever ideas and suggestions through these channels. There are two Facebook groups, “Principal Productivity” and “Staff Appreciation & Motivation” that my principal partner in crime, Melinda Miller and I created that collect timely amazing suggestions for leaders as well. I schedule lunches with leadership friends, think tank sessions where we can bounce ideas off each other…we can share in our successes and our struggles.
Sometimes your leadership bucket needs to be filled as well and there are plenty of connected educators that are out there just waiting to pour into you!
Lastly, the summer is when I finally have the time to read all the professional books I’ve been stacking up throughout the year. Not just read…but drown in, absorb, to think about potential implications and possible implementations. As an avid reader, I know myself, if I read this amazing book in October, the craziest month of my year, the odds of it sinking in and creating change are slim. If I have the time to really focus on the text, take notes…highlight my favorite lines, create book snaps to share with my team…there’s a real chance that it will impact my educational practice.
How do I know what books to read? I’m a big fan of organizations like ASCD that give recommendations for leaders via their social media channels or mail outs, but I also search for professional leadership books on an app called Goodreads. Dave Burgess Publishing has some incredible options for leaders of all levels, and I find myself gravitating towards his published books. They are quick, easy reads and seem to apply to many different facets on my campus. As much as we have on our plates, it’s refreshing to find such varied perspectives that challenge not only the status quo but why we do what we do. Read a book & challenge yourself!
However your summer months are broken down, I hope that you are purposeful and fill your days with the things that make you happy. Having a plan, even a casual plan, an “I might want” plan, allows you to be intentional. Knowing that I have a limited amount of opportunities to take advantage of this “down” time make sit all the more precious! Rest, recharge, and get ready! Back to school will be here before you know it!
Amber Teamann is the proud principal of Whitt Elementary in Wylie ISD in Wylie, Texas. During her educational career, Amber’s comprehensive understanding of student learning has resulted in a successful blend of technology and teaching. From a 4th grade teacher at a public school technology center to her role as a Title I Technology Facilitator responsible for 17 campuses, Amber has helped students and staff navigate their digital abilities and responsibilities. She transformed the way information is shared in one of the largest school districts in Texas by piloting a communication initiative that launched Twitter and led to 100-percent campus participation. Through her campus-level leadership, she has helped initiate classroom change district-wide, empowering teachers at all levels.