I think it's safe to say that, in schools, we know how to start things, how to initiate initiatives, how to launch . . . But we don't always know how to close, how to say a thing is finished, how to count gains or commit to adjustments.
As the year closes, then, I have a set of questions for school leaders.
- What do you want to know/gather/learn as the year closes?
- Are there important questions to be asked, data to be collected, cases to be closed as the year ends?
- Were any projects started in your area/department? Do you need to check in on them?
- Did you, or anyone in your area/department, change a book/unit/approach? How did that go and how do you know?
- Is everyone in your area/department aware of the summer work that will be happening in your area/department?
- What do you want people on your team to think about over the summer? (Nothing is a fine answer.)
- What's on the horizon in your area/department/school? (Put down some some mental velcro for your team, even if it is rather vague mental velcro.)
- Where do you want your team to be in one year? What deterrents might prevent you from leading them there, and what will you do to avoid those deterrents?
- Did any projects/experiments/initiatives associated with your area/department fail? If so, what have you learned from the failure and what process will you follow to end these projects/experiments/initiatives now or in the future?
- Is there anything you really should ask the students before they leave for the summer?
We all know that May is a mad dash to the finish. But leaders have (to have) the ability to keep their eyes on a few targets while moving quickly. Or, to offer another metaphor, sometimes leading means sidestepping the oncoming flow of traffic, getting on your tiptoes, and glancing ahead. Someone has to.