You have summer off, right?

What do principals do all summer? We all get that question often.  While most people know principals work all summer they often think we are just hanging out in the office.  Since school is not in session at this time, the question is asked often, “What do you all so in the summer?” This made us think and we wanted to reflect on all that we did this summer.

One activity that overlapped from the end of the school year to summer was scheduling.  Anyone in education knows the time required to build a master schedule and then schedule students.  This is a multi person effort that requires time.  The first step is building your actual master schedule and then you schedule students.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Um, well, no.  It is critical that you build a master schedule that maximizes the potential to reach your academic goals.  While the bulk of scheduling is completed in June it doesn’t really end until right before school starts.

We use time to think and process.  It is critical that we do this in the summer.  We need to reflect on the previous year and think about how that will impact the coming year.  We think about what went well and what needs to be modified.  The important part is the “thinking and reflecting” part.  It is much more difficult to do that in a comprehensive manner during the school year.  The summer gives you extended time to do this.  Now that we are Co-Principals we get to do this with a partner!  We feel our decisions are so much stronger with thought partners!

We created our master calendars.  This includes almost everything for the year.  PLC meetings, professional learning meetings, parent meetings, lunch duty, open houses, and the list goes on and on.  We think it is important to “map out” the year in order to create an efficient calendar.  It also requires us to set goals and priorities.  It is almost like something does not exist (at least as far as our attendance is concerned) if it’s not on our calendar!

We started off the summer with a one day professional development on working with children living in poverty.  As you may know our school serves many students living in poverty (around 87%).  It is crucial that we continue to learn about how to best serve these students.  It was held on the beautiful campus of Catawba College.  It was attended by over 90% of our staff.  We were delighted with the turnout!

We held numerous interviews.  We estimate that we conducted somewhere around 150 interviews between May and August.  It takes a lot of time to conduct that many interviews.  It is not just the interview itself, but the time spent sorting through resumes, contacting job candidates to set up the interviews, contacting teachers to serve on the interview committee, preparing for the actual interview and then finally holding the interviews. Then you start the process of contacting references.  Some references are super helpful and get right back to you. Sometimes it takes repeated calls and emails to get a response.  Once you finally settle on a candidate, you begin the paperwork.  It is quite a lengthy process just for one position.  We think we set a record somewhere for the amount of interviews this summer!

We attended a two-day principals’ retreat for our district.  This gave us time to work on solidifying the districts focused efforts and continue to build relationships among the principals.  We have a good number of new principals and this is an important part of building a great team.  We needed this time to get to know each other and learn about ways to support each other.  We are veteran principals in this group and we need to make sure we support the new principals.  Being a new principal is extremely challenging and we hope to be able to help them grow.  We also had a full day middle school principals retreat.  This gave us more time with our grade span principals where we worked on the upcoming school year and the district grading guidelines.  There was a day long district administration meeting towards the end of summer where we solidified our calendars for the year.

We created our professional learning schedule for the school year.  This is one of the most important things we do and is critical to our success.  We have to plan for our focus and create a calendar that sticks to this focus.  This process takes time and requires various people.  However, we dedicate the time needed since as it is critically important to our school.

We attended the ISTE (International Society for Technology Education) conference this summer in Philadelphia.  We were also fortunate enough to bring 7 of our teachers with us.  It was a great learning experience and a great staff bonding experiencing as well.  We love to offer great professional development to our teachers and this surely fit that description.  We had time to attend sessions, meet and plan and have a good time.

We are excited about our upcoming staff retreat.  Our entire staff will be heading to the mountains for three days of professional learning, mission and vision building and bonding.  This will give us dedicated time away from the business of school and life and will allow us to focus on our important work.  We will review our mission and vision and make modifications (or wholesale changes) if the group decides that is needed.  We will also spend time on refining our approach to professional learning communities.  This year our mantra is to stay focused and we are excited to get started.  Of course it has taken an immense amount of time to prepare for this.  In addition to the tedious details to cover and all the paperwork to complete, the real time has been the planning for the professional development sessions, etc. This is such exciting work and we are grateful for this opportunity.  This does not happen everywhere!

We held two professional development seminars for teachers are Catawba College.  One focused on working with children living in poverty and one focused on focusing your instruction.  We absolutely loved these!  We had a great time presenting and listening to the participants.  We always learn as much from our participants as participants do from us.  While the seminars took up four days and the planning process took up several more it was well worth our time.  We were able to share information with about 40 teachers from our district and were excited about the seminars.  Based on feedback the participants enjoyed it as well.  We have said it a million times but professional learning is key to the advancement of our craft and we were excited so many teachers took time from their summer to attend these seminars! One participant shared this comment in her feedback to us:

“I could attend professional development like this for days!”

We spent time meeting with parents, students and community members.  This is such an important part of the school improvement process.  People want accessible school leaders and we try to meet those needs.  These meetings are for a wide variety of reasons and they are all meaningful.  We always enjoy meeting our students’ parents and our community members.  We are lucky to work in such a supportive community.

We spent time cultivating the relationships in our building.  We hear from teachers attending different workshops, etc.  We know how important it is to build our team to maximum capacity.  Much of that involves relationship building.  We truly enjoy our staff and are committed to doing whatever it takes to help them reach their highest potential.  This takes some time but is well worth it for sure.

There are many smaller items to work on and complete during the summer.  Some of them include:

*Updating student and faculty handbooks

*Creating the lunch schedule

*Meeting with the transportation department

*Creating a teacher duty schedule

*Planning for open house

*Ordering needed supplies

*Doing facility checks, submitting work orders

We started a room cleaning/decorating contest on the last day for teachers this past school year and it has been great to follow along some of the room transformations.  Our students will love some of these new classrooms!  We are trying to spruce up our office, but honestly we are not sure how it is going!

This has been an incredibly busy summer.  We feel like it is just getting started when it is actually just about to end.  We feel we accomplished a lot this summer and look forward to a ground breaking year at Knox Middle!

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