As administrators and teachers, we spend countless hours each summer preparing for an epic kickoff to the new school year. We have themed professional development days and new school year themes in August—“Welcome back! All Aboard for a Successful Year!” Then come the hard months of January and February, then on to spring, during which we are all thinking: Our train has derailed! While this spring has been very different from the traditional end of the school year, we know it takes every ounce of gumption for our students, teachers, and families to finish strong while also keeping the focus.
As we look to the new school year in the fall, what can we do as educators to support this endeavor going forward?
Administrators can schedule activities such as our school’s “Eggstra Boost Egg Hunt.” Every spring, our team fills more than 500 eggs with candy and prizes, throwing an egg hunt for our staff. Administration can also invite parent-teacher association and community members to provide snacks for staff. Another absolutely easy no-cost idea is a “jean day pass”—it’s the little things. Ask teachers to surprise families with homework-free nights or a homework assignment that encourages a family time activity!
Support is probably the No. 1 way an administrator can help with end-of-year survival. Make it a priority to be out and about in common areas and classrooms. Stop in and let teachers and students know their hard work is seen.
Supporting teachers and students is important, but don’t ever miss an opportunity to let parents know they are doing an awesome job as well. Parenting and teaching are often unappreciated spots, so let them all know—We see you, we hear you, and you are doing a phenomenal job!
Often, just being heard is all that is needed. One way I like to have an open-door policy is to invite faculty and staff to “walk and talk” in the afternoons. As soon as dismissal duty is over, I head on outside for a walk. Anyone is welcome to join me as I walk outside the school for about 30 minutes. Not only does this keep the office from becoming a gripe zone, it encourages stress-relieving exercise while also being heard. Other afternoons, the walk is lonely in words, but not in numbers.
Being an educator is often a lonely job. Get out there, keep your conductor’s hat, stay on track, and finish strong!
What can you do to help faculty, staff, students, and families to finish strong?
Sara Jane Russell is an assistant principal at Hernando Middle School in Hernando, MS, with an average enrollment of 1,050 students in grades 6–8 each school year. She was recently named principal for Southaven Intermediate School in Southaven, MS. She has 20 years in education, the last 10 in administration for Desoto County Schools, MS, and is the 2019 Mississippi Assistant Principal of the Year.