Many principals and other educational leaders are always thinking about the next step, the next journey, the next goal or the next improvement plan. It is kind of engrained in what we do – always thinking about school improvement. But as we get ready to end a school year, I encourage all school leaders to take some time to reflect on this past year. I say this because this is something that is hard for many of us to do – including me! Typically, at the end of the year, our thinking revolves around what it is that we want to get accomplished for the upcoming year. In other words, a part of our end of year routine is to re-evaluate our strategic plan and focus on what did not go well and how we can make changes or tweak certain initiatives. How do we make it easy to reflect and focus on the celebrations?
One of the tools that could help to create this “celebration/reflection” process is to create a celebratory document and having it published. The first step is to request your leadership team to email you any big accomplishments for the year from their individual departments – you would be surprised to see how quickly you can forget things. For example, maybe that big band competition your school won back in the fall or how one of your students won the state spelling bee. Obviously this needs to be in your “to do” list before everyone leaves for the summer. Once you get those emails coming in, take the time to group them by certain headings. For example, you could have the following headings: academic achievements, sports, arts, teacher accomplishments, PLC accomplishments etc. Under each heading, begin listing the accomplishments for the year. As time consuming as this can be, it is so important to actually list all the great things your school accomplished and then have it published as well as shared with the staff when they return from the summer.
Another great use for the document is to share this with key community members over the summer. For instance, hosting a meet and greet with local community leaders and real estate agents. Going over the year’s accomplishment during the summer is a great way to celebrate and showcase your school in addition to building positive relationships with your key stakeholders.
I was told by one of my professors that when reflecting at the end of the year, think that this is your last year at that school. What can you say was accomplished under your leadership that particular year? As you keep these year to year logs, it is a great way to reflect on your entire leadership tenure at that particular school.
Reflecting and celebrating can be difficult to do given we are always focused on the upcoming year but taking the time to reflect and acknowledge all the great things that occurred helps to truly “measure” your successes outside of just test scores. It helps us to focus beyond academic successes since we know our academics are always the center but there are so many successes that occur that are beyond that. By creating a document that highlights all of them by various categories helps to capture all the successes.
“Success is not measured by what one brings, but rather by what one leaves” – Unknown