The end of the school year is an exciting time for students and teachers looking forward to some time off, but for a principal it simply means turning the page and starting over again. A principal’s job is never over and a good principal will use the end of the school year to search for and make improvements for the upcoming school year. The following are suggestions for principals to do at the end of the school year.
Reflect on the Past School Year
At some point a principal will sit down and do a comprehensive reflection on the entire school year as a whole. They will look for things that worked really well, things that did not work at all, and things they can improve on. The truth is that year in and year out there is room for improvement. A good administrator will search for areas of improvement constantly. As soon as the school year ends a good administrator will start implementing changes to make those improvements for the upcoming school year. I highly recommend that a principal keep a notebook with them so that they can jot down ideas and suggestions for review at the end of the year. This will assist you in the reflecting process and can give you fresher perspective on what has transpired throughout the school year.
Review Policies and Procedures
This can be a part of your overall reflection process, but a focus needs to be given specifically to your student handbook and the policies in it. Too many times a school’s handbook is out-dated. The handbook should be a living document and one that changes and improves on a continual basis. It seems that every year there are new issues that you have never had to address before. New policies are needed to take care of these new issues. I strongly encourage you to take the time to read through your student handbook every year and then take recommended changes to your superintendent and school board. Having the right policy in place can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
Visit with Faculty/Staff Members
The teacher evaluation process is one of the most important jobs of a school administrator. Having excellent teachers in every classroom is essential to maximize student potential. Although I have already formally evaluated my teachers and given them feedback by the end of the school year, I always feel it is important to sit down with them before they go home for the summer to give them feedback and to get feedback from them as well. I always use this time to challenge my teachers in areas they need improvement. I want to stretch them and I never want a complacent teacher. I also use this time to gain feedback from my faculty/staff on my performance and the school as a whole. I want them to be honest in their evaluation of how I have done my job and on how well the school is being ran. It is equally important to praise each teacher and staff member for their hard work. It would be impossible for a school to be effective without each person pulling their weight.
Meet with Committees
Most principals have several committees that they rely on for assistance with certain tasks and/or specific areas. These committees often have valuable insight within that specific area. Although they meet throughout the year as needed, it is always good to meet with them a final time before the school year is up. This final meeting should target specific areas such as how to improve the committee’s effectiveness, what the committee should work on next year, and any final thing the committee might see needs immediate improvement before the upcoming school year.
Conduct Improvement Surveys
In addition to gaining feedback from your faculty/staff it can also be beneficial to collect information from your parents and students. You do not want to over survey your parents/students, so creating a short comprehensive survey is essential. You may want the surveys to focus on a specific area such as homework or you may want it to include several different areas. In any case, these surveys can provide you with valuable insight that could lead to some major improvements that will help your school as a whole.
Conduct Classroom/Office Inventory and Teacher Check Out
The end of the school year is a great time for cleaning up and inventorying anything new that you may have been given throughout the school year. I require my teachers to inventory everything in their room including furniture, technology, books, etc. I have built an Excel spreadsheet that the teachers have to put their entire inventory on. After the first year, the process is simply an update each additional year that teacher is there. Doing inventory this way is also good because if that teacher leaves, the new teacher hired to replace them will have a comprehensive list of everything that teacher left behind.
I also have my teachers give me several other pieces of information when they checkout for the summer. They give me their student supply list for the upcoming year, a list of anything in their room that might need repaired, a want list (in case we somehow come up with some extra funds), and a holds list for anyone who might have a lost/damaged textbook or library book. I also have my teachers clean their rooms extensively taking everything down from the walls, covering up technology so it does not collect dust, and moving all furniture to one side of the room. This will force your teachers to come in and start fresh in the upcoming school year. Starting fresh in my opinion keeps teachers from getting into a rut.
Meet with District Superintendent
Most superintendents will schedule meetings with their principals at the end of the school year. However, if your superintendent does not, then it would be a good idea for you to schedule a meeting with them. I always think it is imperative to keep my superintendent in the loop. As a principal you always want to have a great working relationship with your superintendent. Don’t be afraid to ask them for advice, constructive criticism, or to make suggestions to them based on your observations. I always like to have an idea of any changes for the upcoming school year which would be discussed at this time.
Begin Preparation for the Upcoming School Year
Contrary to popular belief a principal does not have much time off during the summer. The instance that my students and teachers are gone from the building I am putting all of my effort into preparing for the upcoming school year. This can be a tedious process that covers many tasks including cleaning my office, cleaning up files on my computer, reviewing test scores and assessments, ordering supplies, finishing final reports, building schedules, etc. Everything you have previously done to prepare for the end of the year will also come into play here. All the information that you have collected in your meetings will factor into your preparation for the upcoming school year.