By Heather Lewis, PerformancePLUS Educational Consultant
It is the time of year when winter time settles in and gently encourages us to hibernate. With another calendar year concluded, all of the beginning of the year and some of the mid-year assessments are behind us, students are established into their schedules, staff may be reflecting on progress, and everyone is ready for a break … but not before we consider some questions about the beginning of the year. We should use this relative lull in the school year as an opportunity to check in with ourselves, our classrooms, our buildings, and our districts and assess school district performance.
Taking advantage of this time of year can prove very beneficial. Because routines and data collection have been established, there are plenty of records to ponder and ample reflections, decisions, and adjustments that can be made. Consider what has been established thus far and audit yourself: What has been positively implemented thus far this year? Have there been any programs, decisions, or implementations that did not progress as expected? Are the assessments that are being used meeting your needs? Are you well-informed about expectations for yourself as a staff member? Are you well-informed about expectations for students? What changes could make progress better and expectations more clear?
Continuing this approach of “What,” “Why,” and “Now what?” Revisit each of the questions above, and dig a little deeper to figure out why you have or have not had successes. Did district volunteers play a pivotal role? Are there systems in place that are helping goals be reached? Have new initiatives helped or established practices maintained success?
Looking forward, use the answers to your questions to determine how best to continue through the school year. What is planned next based on what has happened this year so far? What have you already planned and are you scheduled to implement in the latter half of the school year? Will those plans change based on the foundation that has been established thus far? Documenting these Next Steps can help keep you on course to accomplish what you have planned, and this will help you audit yourself again at the end of the school year.