Scrolling through LinkedIn, an unbelievable number of members are changing their status from active to retired. Many teachers and school administrators are changing their profiles as well, in fact, the National Education Association predicted in February 2022 that 55% of teachers would retire last year. Teachers have carried a heavy load this school year and several years before as well. With this in mind, it is time to consider how schooling could look as we usher in the 2023-24 school year.
Summer is a time for flip-flops, mountain tops, and beaches, but it is also good to plan for the next school year. The spring was most likely spent justifying spending needs and hopefully, many budgets will be passed by the first of July. With approved budgets in hand, districts should strategically think through the implementation of programs and projects that were included.
This is also the time to consider what was learned from the past year that can be applied to future improvement. Summertime has a short number of weeks, and with staff vacations added to the mix, time is of the essence.
Here is a quick list of priorities for school leaders summer planning.
1. Assess Facilities
Summer is the time to take inventory of all of your facility needs, including technology. Make sure old equipment is properly disposed of and new equipment is on the way prior to absolute disposal. Walkthrough as many buildings as possible to check the grounds and determine if there are priorities for rehabilitation in the coming years. Additionally, some communities are experiencing a lot of growth while others are declining in population. This is the time to set the needs of buildings and the demand on the capital budget. Check boundary lines in conjunction with the new development and begin a plan that will inform the school board of upcoming needs.
2. Recruit Teachers/Staff
Currently, recruiting staff is a priority every day but summer is the chance to reach out and hire as many highly qualified educators, administrators, and support personnel as possible. You may consider hiring ‘permanent substitutes’ to create a pipeline of teachers for when vacancies occur throughout the year. These teachers serving as permanent substitutes fill long-term subbing positions or are assigned to one school to substitute. Because they are certificated and highly qualified, they can move into teaching positions that match their skill set.
The April 2022 issue of Tech & Learning features a teacher recruitment and retention playbook for school districts, with advice, best practices, and resources to help find quality educators.
Inventory is a dirty word but someone has to do it. Inventory is the best way to know what resources are available to your teachers, students, and staff members. Technology, books, and other necessary equipment should be not only inventoried but checked to make sure it still functions properly and can still meet needs.
After a thorough inventory, purchase orders can be written to recoup resources and add new items before school starts. This process should begin as soon as students leave the building so that orders can be placed in a timely fashion.
5. Reflect and Retreat
Leaders spend a large amount of their time lifting up others and troubleshooting. Summertime offers the chance for them to slow down to middle gear and reflect on what was successful during the past year and what needs to be tweaked.
Of course, this can be done through an email memo but trust and relationships are built when leaders retreat to work together in an environment that is different from the school or office environment. This can be done at a retreat center, a conference that all will be attending (such as ISTELive 23), a public state park, a church, or other community building located nearby. Taking time to reflect and plan as a team builds the infrastructure needed to endure anything the 2023-24 year has to offer by way of challenges or opportunities.
Education can only improve if we put the time and effort into rethinking what it can be. Taking advantage of the summer to assess, reflect, and revise is a great use of time for any administrator. Happy Summer!