The following guest post was written by Jacqueline E. Jacobs and Kevin L. O'Gorman, authors of The Learning Leader: Reflecting, Modeling, and Sharing.
In February most faculty and administrators have forgotten that they have passed mid-year: the break in December but a distant memory and spring break seeming far away. Even with fun thoughts of Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, and the shortest month of the year, February can often seem challenging. Will you and your teachers be like the groundhog that comes out of his hole and can examine where you are in your instructional year? Or will you be the groundhog who stays buried in the hole of work that awaits you?
How can school leaders turn evaluating instructional programming into a fun activity that will motivate teachers to move forward during such a historically tough month?
Define the Work to be Done:
February is the time when you need to evaluate instruction from the first term, determine priorities for the second term, and plan for next year. Make February faculty/team meetings meaningful by establishing a structure that is clear to everyone. We suggest the following:
- Reflection: What worked in our instructional program in the Fall term? What’s left to be done? How can we organize to complete that work?
- Planning: What goals and strategies do we need to revise for next year? What new goals do we need?
- Celebrating: Find ways to celebrate already achieved successes.
Ideas for Celebrating:
- What can you do to celebrate the successes to date? For example, do an activity at a February faculty meeting to “Chase the blahs” and “Celebrate the Bears”! (Whoever your mascot is).
- Ask teachers to send a student to the principal/assistant principal, dean, or counselor to share something s/he did well. It may be a well-written paper, a kindness to another student. Teachers will make good decisions about this.
- During your walkthroughs look for something that you have not acknowledged to a teacher before. For example, engagement of a student in a given activity/lesson. A bulletin board that provides for active engagement of students.
- Stop a teacher in the hall and say, “Tell me one good thing that happened for you today.” (Simple, yes, but opening the door to share good news can make a teacher’s day).
You can think of ways that you can encourage celebration whether it is with cafeteria staff, teachers, students, administrators, or parents. The important thing is to DO IT! ☺ Please post any ideas that you used in previous Februaries and how you felt it had an impact on your school in this often dreary month, or let us know how you plan to chase the blahs away this February!